Commission focusses on agriculture

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Three commissioners addressed a high profile conference on the future of the European agriculture industry.

Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission, opened the European Agriculture Outlook conference looking at the future of the industry over the next ten years.

Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan also discussed the future direction of the CAP in his remarks to the conference.

“The CAP has to ensure greater market resilience, more sustainable agricultural production and progress on generational renewal,” he said.

He also went on to say: “The new CAP will have to have a higher level of environmental ambition.”

These sentiments were echoed by Karmenu Vella, Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, who placed a strong emphasis on healthy ecosystems in order to achieve greater environmental benefit and that there should be renewed focus on healthy soils, water and biodiversity in the future.

NFU Scotland vice-president Rob Livesey also took part in the conference, highlighting the role that agriculture plays in tackling climate change, adding that farmers rarely receive due credit for the efforts they make to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

On day two of the conference, the commission presented its predictions for the different agricultural commodities over the next ten years. It presented a positive outlook for the dairy sector, where it forecasted that the EU would be the largest exporter of dairy products in the world, ahead of its nearest competitor New Zealand.

The livestock sector was a mixed bag with meat consumption remaining stable in Europe but this varies by meat type. Across the EU, the commission expected there to be a growing demand for poultry, a slight increase for lamb and pork but a decline in consumption for beef. Beef production is expected to increase on the back of a decline of the dairy herd and more cull beef entering the market.

High Level Forum

NFU President Meurig Raymond has taken concerns about the European food supply chain to a high profile meeting in Brussels this week. Mr Raymond was last year elected as the EU farming industry’s representative on the High Level Forum on the Better Functioning of the Food Supply chain.

Mr Raymond urged the European Commission to act on the recommendations of the Agri Markets Task Force (AMTF). Earlier this year, the AMTF called on the commission to bring forward legislation to tackle unfair trading practices in the food supply chain – a view which has been very much supported by the UK farming unions.

Avian flu reaches new farms

The EU’s two largest poultry producing nations, Poland and France, have reported cases of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) on commercial poultry farms.

Poland first detected the virus in wild birds having first detected it on a goose farm in Deszczno, 50km from the border with Germany.

France found the virus on a duck farm in the southwest, in the same region which suffered outbreaks of the flu a year ago. Consequently, France has now raised its bird flu risk to ‘high’ across the country. In the UK, the government chief vet has declared a Prevention Zone to introduce enhanced biosecurity requirements for poultry and captive birds.

The zone covers England and will remain in place for 30 days.

The Scottish and Welsh governments have also imposed housing orders. No cases of H5N8 have been found in the UK so precautionary measures are being taken to help prevent potential infection from wild birds.