"Give a man a reputation as an early riser, and he can sleep ’til noon." Mark Twain
The uplift in cattle prices of recent weeks slowed in week ended 11th May read more
With more new season lambs entering the market, the dynamics of the trade have started to change read more
Provisional data for April milk deliveries of approximately 1,111m litres are 93m litres (7.7%) down on the previous year read more
In April, the DAPP averaged 160.9p/kg, almost 4p up on the month. At the same time, the average retail price came down by a small amount read more
The GB weekly average price fell by £7.68/t to £295.35/t and the free-buy average fell by £22.02/t to £368.39/t. read more
The first USDA estimates for world production in 2013-14 forecast record maize and wheat production, citing larger planted areas and a rebound in yields from the US (maize) and the Former Soviet Union (wheat) read more
The USDA has released its first soyabean supply and demand estimates for the new season read more
UK malting barley export prices are at €245/t FOB (spring, South Coast) w/e 11th April. read more
The latest National Statistics produced by Defra on the activity of UK hatcheries and poultry slaughterhouses. read more
USDA’s latest quarterly stocks report, released on 28th September, estimated US maize stocks (at 1st September) at 25.1m t, down 12% on the same point in 2011 and the lowest since 2004. read more
Iona Walton talks to Pekka Pesonen of Copa-Cogeca about farming’s challenges
Agriculture’s potential in helping to tackle climate change is being overlooked by those in the European Commission who are focussed on cutting the headline rates of carbon emissions rather than mitigating the effects, argues a Brussels lobbyist. According to Pekka Pesonen, secretary-general of Copa-Cogeca, the European association for farmers and farmers’ co-operatives, the EU’s position is in stark contrast with that of the US government where agriculture is seen as a solution, not a problem, in the battle to cut emissions.
Mr Pesonen, formerly of the Finnish ministry of agriculture, has seen attitudes to tackling climate change diverge. While Europe portrays itself as a pioneer in the battle against climate change, its policies lack the pragmatism of those of the US where policy makers work with the industry to cut emissions without threatening its economic viability. “The Americans are looking to produce more food in a sustainable way while considering carbon sequestration at every stage,” explains Mr Pesonen. “It is a crucial difference between the EU and the US.”
The manner in which agriculture has been sidelined by European policy makers frustrates Mr Pesonen, who recognises the economic damage such myopic thinking inflicts on the industry. The adoption of the Lisbon Treaty, however, provides him and his colleagues with other opportunities to influence EU policy on the issue by highlighting agriculture’s role to MEPs.
Copa-Cogeca works closely with three core EU institutions, taking different operational approaches as necessary. As the Lisbon Treaty gives the EU parliament a greater role in the decision making process, Mr Pesonen and his colleagues assist MEPs on the best solutions within the agricultural sphere. They also work closely with the Council and the Commission, enabling proposals to be developed in line with their own priorities.
A constant battle is being fought over GM contamination of feed stocks and the absence of a coherent policy. The EU could go a long way to resolving the issue, Mr Pesonen believes, by giving consumers the freedom to choose between foods containing GM and non-GM derived ingredients at point of sale. He accepts there is concern among some consumers and that these could be allayed by freedom to choose between the two, but is fearful of moves to adopt a zero tolerance approach because of its implications on trade.
“Farmers should be able to invest in their production, conventional, organic or GM,” he says. “Equally, consumers should be free to buy any product of their choice. We need a legal framework to be implemented so we can manage the situation where we see increased pressure on EU farmers from world market products created using GM ingredients.”
The balance of the protein supply market is delicate, as EU farmers pay a premium for feed that the rest of the world can avoid. Consumers, meanwhile, are reluctant to shoulder the additional cost, despite demanding different standards. “There’s a danger that EU pig and poultry farmers will go out of business unless the EU adopts a more pragmatic screening approach by setting a threshold beneath which GM contamination is tolerated,” Mr Pesonen advises.
Farmers need a stronger position within the food chain, he believes, and this should be enforced through legislation. “The bargaining power of producers needs to be strengthened and I want to see improvements in contractual relations and market transparency,” says Mr Pesonen. “Incentives must be put in place for developing collective strategies and enhancing cooperation between producers.
“There’s been a downward trend of farm gate prices, lower market prices and soaring costs of production across all sectors in Europe, with producers getting a smaller and retailers a larger share of the consumer spend. EU farmers saw an average drop of 12.2% in income in 2009. They earn half the wage of the average citizen and of their earnings about two-thirds depends on direct support.”
CAP post-2013 offers a chance to take control of the volatility of the marketplace. Strong common financing should be maintained across all EU countries, and Mr Pesonen is looking for the development of market risk management tools.
“Differences in aspirations need to be resolved within our own members and between EU institutions,” he warns. “The agricultural market should be the main supplier of agricultural income and this has to be tackled at an EU level. New methods can be implemented to supplement existing EU tools, but not to replace them.
For more information visit www.copa-cogeca.be
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