Reducing and managing price volatility in European agricultural markets was the focus of a debate in Brussels this week.
Members of the European Parliament’s Agriculture Committee were joined by academics, industry representatives and EU officials to discuss and consider a range of possible measures to reduce the impact of volatile markets.
Ulster Unionist MEP Jim Nicholson who attended the debate said it was important to “think outside the box” to help ensure the agricultural industry is better equipped to manage price volatility.
Speaking after the conference Mr Nicholson said: “Price volatility poses a huge challenge for farmers and the wider agri-food industry as extreme price fluctuations can make it difficult for farmers to make a living and to plan for the future.
“It is in all our interests to explore, identify and implement innovative ways of reducing and managing price volatility in the future – this would mean a greater degree of certainty for farmers.
“I welcome this week’s conference. I held a similar event last autumn which focused on price volatility in the dairy sector but given the immense difficulties in a range of sectors at this time there is a need to put measures in place which can address this issue across the board.
“It was interesting to note the arguments for and against various options, including the use of financial instruments to guard against price volatility in agri markets and using subsidies to reduce production during periods of oversupply. Fully weighing up the pros and cons of the potential solutions is an important part of ensuring we get the right range of tools in place for the future.
“The European Commission has also recently established the Agricultural Markets Task Force, which will also consider ways of tackling volatility and I know we all wait with interest to see what solutions the members propose. We have seen, and are seeing, the impact price volatility has on farm businesses.
“We need to be prepared to use all the tools we currently have available and to think outside the box to identify additional measures as it appears price volatility is here to stay.”