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Preparations Intensify Ahead of EU Agricultural Meeting

04 September 2015

EU - Agricultural ministers and organisations have been meeting all over the EU in preparation for an extraordinary meeting of ministers on 7 September.

Discussions are expected to take place at the meeting on the low prices in the milk, lamb and pork markets, which are causing financial difficulties for many farmers.

There have been widespread protests by farmers demanding action to save their businesses, including road blocks, cows in a supermarket in the UK, and lorries of Spanish pork set on fire in France.

Ministers and farmers' organisations have been busy coming up with possible measures to improve the situation ahead of the meeting next week.

Six proposals emerged from a meeting of Spanish, French, Portuguese and Italian agriculture ministers.

Among other plans, they presented ideas to expand private storage aid, which helps meat traders with the costs of putting products such as butter, milk and pork into storage. This helps to stabilise the market for a product if there’s a surplus and prices become weak.

Opening private storage schemes for cheese and meat was suggested, with ministers saying this move was helpful following the introduction of the Russian import ban last year.

Another suggestion is to promote meat products more extensively, to improve demand and give the markets a boost. In particular, ministers suggested targeting of third countries (countries outside the EU) to improve exports.

Other suggested measures include improved labelling and traceability to allow consumers to support farmers from their own country, improving cash flow to farm businesses through better banking and timing of farm subsidy payments, and a raise in the floor price for dairy products.

France's agriculture minister Stephane Le Foll also travelled to Berlin at the start of this week to meet his German and Polish counterparts, to develop a joint position on support measures ahead of 7 September.

German minister Christian Schmidt said: "Farmers throughout Europe are currently facing major challenges. Our goal is to work together to find solutions for the whole of Europe." 

He added: "We do not just want discussion - we want results."

As well as problems of oversupply, reducing Chinese demand and Russian bans leading to low prices, Polish agriculture minister Marek Sawicki drew attention to the drought that has caused problems for crops. In a letter to the European Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan, the Estonian agriculture minister Urmas Kruuse said that the spread of African Swine Fever in the east also required addressing.

The ministers are united in calling for a Europe-wide strategy to improve the situation, and agree that action is needed as soon as possible.

A mass demonstration of farmers will take place outside the 7 September meeting in Brussels, led by European agricultural umbrella organisations Copa and Cogeca.

According to Copa and Cogeca, the demonstration aims to "underline the unprecedented situation and demand action" and 2000 farmers and agri-cooperatives from across Europe are expected.

Alice Mitchell

Alice Mitchell
News Team - Editor



Top image via Shutterstock

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