Posts Tagged ‘European Council of Young Farmers’
MF: One third of global production wasted annually– that’s a huge amount.
MB: Yes, it’s a very large figure. In developing countries, most waste happens in the earlier stages of the food supply chain, whereas in developed regions such as Europe, food is more likely to be wasted at the other end of the chain, when it lands in the hands of the processors, retailers and consumers. This leads to safe food going uneaten. It’s clearly an issue which must be addressed given escalating food demand and continuing poverty and hunger for many in developing countries. The issue is particularly topical at the moment considering that EXPO 2015’s theme is ‘Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life’ which has a heavy focus on food security, and therefore food waste.
MF: What is the EU’s strategy?
MB: In 2014, the European Commission put forward objectives for food waste reduction in the EU with the stated aim of reducing food waste by at least 30% by 2025. However, in its 2015 work programme, the Commission announced that it would withdraw this legislative proposal in favour of a new, more ambitious one to promote circular economy. This is the idea of reusing and recycling existing materials and products, aiming to ‘close the loop’ in order to avoid loss and waste. The European Commission has launched a public consultation on ‘Circular Economy’ in a bid to promote its new strategy on the subject which it is planning for late 2015. The consultation is open to everyone, so anyone should feel free to have their say if they would like to contribute!
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MF: Why do we need a simplification of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP)?
MB: The CAP is one of the European Union’s most far-reaching, complicated and intricate policies. More importantly, it is one of the EU’s most ‘common’ policies, spanning different geographical areas, landscapes, soil types and farming traditions. Not only that, but it is a policy which provides different amounts of income support to every single eligible farmer in the Union. This, understandably, makes it a lengthy and complex policy which can sometimes cause administrative burden for Member States, businesses and individual farmers. Therefore, it is essential that CAP Simplification is explored extensively. Now that the new CAP has been in place since the beginning of the year, the EU institutions want to look through what has been agreed and where improvements can be made, as well as what can be done better next time.
MF: What is the background to CAP simplification?
MB: The European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Phil Hogan, has identified CAP Simplification as one of his priorities for 2015. This is also in the context of the new Commission’s Work Programme, headed up by Commission President Juncker, which highlights ‘Better Regulation’ as a core objective for EU policy. A first action plan on CAP Simplification was published in 2006, and since then there has been an ongoing CAP Simplification exercise. At the outset, the exercise will focus mostly on delegated and implementing acts, which help to put in place the detailed rules needed to implement the reformed CAP. Commissioner Hogan has already said that he will review the rules on environmental focus areas among more than 200 other Commission regulations that will be considered for simplification.
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In this month’s regular column from CEJA (European Council of Young Farmers), President, Matteo Bartolini explains what the EU is doing to support farmers following the import ban by Russia on EU food products.
MB: On 6 August 2014, the Kremlin published a decree announcing a Russian embargo on a number of agricultural imports in response to EU punitive sanctions over Russia’s actions in Ukraine. American, Norwegian, Canadian and Australian imports are faced with the same fate. Russia is the largest importer of EU agricultural produce with just under 10% of EU agri imports destined for the country. These imports were worth around €11 billion last year, half of which has now been banned by the Russians. The ban, which has been set for a year, will hit individual European farmers in particular, especially those who rely on export markets and who grow a small variety of produce. The ban will also hit Russian consumers with price hikes for certain products. The European Commission has been quick to try to support EU farmers with emergency measures. However, it is clear that funds available are simply not enough.
MF: What do these emergency measures include?
MB: The first measures outlined were to assist peach and nectarine producers and consisted of decreasing the volumes of fruit available on the market in an attempt to avoid plummeting prices.Extra funds are also being provided for promotion. Peach growers have been hit particularly hard. Indeed, such measures were already under discussion before the announcement of the Russian ban. The weather this year has contributed to an increase in supply but also a rapid advancement in maturity. This led to a much greater intensity of supply at the start of the season rather than a more even spread over the following weeks. Cooler and more humid conditions in June and July also slowed down consumption during this time. The budget for these measures is €29.7 million for withdrawals and €3 million for promotion, allocated to Italy, Spain, Greece and France on the basis of annual production.
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If you would like to get in touch with Mr. Bartolini or CEJA, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The European Commission launched its new Milk Market Observatory in April. In this month’s regular column from CEJA (European Council of Young Farmers), we asked President, Matteo Bartolini to outline what can be expected from this new body.
MF: What is the purpose of the Milk Market Observatory (MMO) and what is the background?
MB: It is designed to publicly provide data transparency, complemented by market analysis, short-term outlook reports and regular meetings of an economic board. This will strengthen the Commission’s capacity to monitor the dairy market and help the sector adapt to the new environment once the dairy quota system which has been in place for 30 years is abolished on 31 March 2015.
The Commissioner first initiated the idea for such an observatory at the Milk Conference in September 2013 which featured a number of CEJA young farmers. The conference brought together all stakeholders in the dairy supply chain – from dairy farmers to milk processors and retailers – to discuss the post-quota future of the sector.
MF: How important is the dairy sector in the EU?
MB: Milk is produced in every single EU Member State and, as a single product sector, it is valued at approximately 15% of all EU agricultural output. The EU is a major player in the world dairy market as the leading exporter of many dairy products, in particular, cheeses. For some Member States, it forms a crucial part of the agricultural economy. Total EU milk production was estimated at around 152 million tonnes in 2011 but this is expected to grow as global demand escalates and EU quotas are phased out. It is no secret that dairy quotas can be a contentious issue in Europe and so the only widely supported concrete suggestion of the Dairy Conference was that of the establishment of the Milk Market Observatory.
Massey Ferguson speaks to Matteo Bartolini, President of the European Council of Young Farmers (CEJA), about the links between nutrition, eating habits and the food chain.
MF: Is EU food legislation to blame for higher food prices?
MB: All of us, as European consumers want high-quality and safe food. The EU plays a vital role in that. The European Commission oversees the necessary level of law harmonization thereby avoiding distortion of competition among Member States. A set of common rules for all 28 Member States is less burdensome and expensive than 28 entirely different sets of rules and regulations.
MF: Would you agree that consumers consider the cost of food – as opposed to its quality and dietary issues – as the determining factor when shopping for food? What can we do to change people’s eating habits?
MB: Cheaper food does not always translate into unhealthy food, and we also need to keep in mind that eating habits often depend on different cultures across the Union. EU citizens must be aware of the fact that meeting the most rigorous requirements – like EU farmers do – can, indeed, contribute to higher prices since the production cost for European farmers increases in direct proportion. Europeans are demanding good quality food – in other words, they want to know what they eat and how their food was produced.
MF: What is your opinion as regards the claim that small farms are less sustainable than their bigger counterparts?
MB: Although this can sometimes be the case, it does not mean that it is the rule. Small farms can be modern and sustainable too. The EU supports small farms by providing funds for modernization and investments in order to ensure that they not polluters and that they are also economically viable. Our view on the issue is that irrespective of their size, both big and small farms should aim to produce sustainably. The reality nowadays is that increasingly scarce natural resources do not leave farmers with much of a choice. European agriculture does not consist of only small farms or only big farms. It is essential to have a mix of the two as this is part of the culture of European farming.
MF: Do you believe that European farmers’ bargaining power has decreased over the years? What do you think are the reasons behind this and what can they do to gain more control?
MB: European farmers exercise rather little control over the final cost of their products. Past practices have fallen short of providing producers with decent prices at farm gate level, with farmers often getting a fraction of what the consumer pays. However, young farmers in particular are attempting to shorten this chain and find innovative solutions to the lack of bargaining power. Young farmers employ methods such as direct selling in order to improve the functioning of the food chain, while, at the same time, bringing consumers closer to producers and giving them more understanding of where and how their food was produced.