A range of new measures to ease the pressure on Europe’s farmers has been put forward by the European Parliament’s centre-right EPP Group of MEPs, calling on the European Commission (EC) to be more flexible in addressing the “deep crisis” currently being faced by producers.
Headline proposals include reforming the intervention mechanism, establishing a more effective regulatory framework to safeguard farmers’ interests in the food supply chain and increasing the use of private storage aid.
The group, which is the largest single group in the parliament, also suggested that the “unspent funds” from last year’s €500m EC support package should now be taken back by the Commission and used to help relieve market pressures.
“Market conditions are threatening the existence of many producers,” said the group’s agriculture committee spokesman, Albert Dess, MEP, (pictured above), adding that the current intervention system is too static to address pricing problems.
Directing his comments largely, but not exclusively, at the milk sector, Mr Dess then called on the Commission to propose a new ‘ad hoc’ intervention system to flexibly remove product from sale, according to market conditions. Such action, he continued, should be taken on a “quick and unannounced” basis and at market prices.
The group also said farmers needed to be given a much more level playing field as a matter of “paramount importance”.
This should include giving farmers secure contracts with retailers, lasting at least 12 months, plus a maximum 30-day payment deadline in order to ensure farmers get their money from buyers as promptly as possible.
“We need to examine the degree of retailer concentration and commercial practices across the EU,” said EPP, “with new legislative measures being brought in to manage unfair trading practices in the food supply chain. Such measures need to include anti-trust and competition rules to ensure that the share of individual retailers in a national market is limited.”