More EU countries take measures to help farmers through drought

editorial image

Last week two more EU member states announced further flexibilities to greening rules to help farmers manage the effects of drought and fodder shortages.

The German Government has released a draft regulation that would allow farms to use catch crop areas for fodder purposes, with grazing and cutting permitted exceptionally for 2018.

However, the German Agriculture Minister confirmed that a decision on a funding support package for the sector would not be made until the publication of an expert report on the effects of the drought (due on 31 August). The northern Flanders region of Belgium also announced a similar flexibility whereby those farmers making use of the catch crop measure could grow more crop varieties suitable for livestock fodder. Farmers can graze and cut these areas as long as enough of the crop is left in place to achieve the intended soil and nutrient benefits of a catch crop.

US court ruling on Glyphosate

A jury in the US has concluded that Monsanto, the original manufacturer of the Glyphosate-based herbicide Roundup, should have provided clearer warnings on the potential risks of the product. The jury found that the company was therefore liable for the harm caused to a former school groundskeeper who used the product for his working life and ordered the company to pay $281m in damages. Monsanto announced that it will appeal the case. The ruling was not about the safety of Glyphosate itself, which numerous regulatory bodies around the world, including in the EU, have concluded is safe when used correctly. Last week, Bayer announced that it would start integrating with Monsanto following the approval of the merger by the EU competition authority earlier this year.

UK Government preparing for “no deal” Brexit

It was reported last week that the UK Government will publish a series of papers in late August and throughout September covering more than 80 subjects in case UK and EU negotiators do not reach an agreement on the UK’s withdrawal from the EU next March. The UK Department for Exiting the EU said “individual departments are preparing specific technical notices to help citizens, businesses and consumers to prepare for March 2019 in the unlikely event of a no-deal scenario.” Agriculture and food will feature heavily in these papers, with topics to be covered ranging from food labelling, geographical indications, imports of food and feed, payments to farmers and veterinary medicines.

EU-Mercosur trade round set for September

Negotiators from the EU and South American trade bloc, Mercosur, will meet in Uruguay in September (10-14) for the 35th trade negotiation round. It was reported that ministerial level talks in July in Brussels broke the deadlock on issues such as geographical indications (GIs). There are now 22 contentious GIs out of the 357 that the EU sought to protect at the start of negotiations. This September round is likely to be one of the last trade rounds before the Brazilian election in October.