Sinking producer prices have led European farmers into a deep crisis. The prices paid for milk have gone down by one third in just three years, for example. The EPP Group proposes several measures to ease the situation, including reforming the intervention mechanism and establishing an effective regulatory framework to safeguard farmers’ interests in the food supply chain.
In a statement adopted by the Group, the MEPs propose solutions to tackle unfair trading practices: “Market conditions are threatening the existence of many producers. Europe needs a fair and balanced relationship between agricultural producers, processors and the retail sector. We therefore worked out proposals for handling the crisis,” explained Albert Deβ MEP, EPP Group Spokesman in the Agriculture and Rural Development Committee of the European Parliament. Farmers need to have secure contracts with retailers, lasting at least 12 months. In order to get paid in time, a maximum 30-day payment deadline should be set, outlines the group statement.
Albert Deβ particularly underlined the need for a flexible intervention mechanism to ease the situation in the milk sector specifically: “The current intervention system is too static. We need to decide on the possible temporary raising of intervention prices and increasing of private storage aid. We therefore call upon the Commission to propose a new “ad hoc” intervention system to flexibly remove, according to market conditions, the necessary quantities of butter and skimmed milk powder in a quick and unannounced procedure, at market prices. The EPP Group demands, on a temporary basis, EU-wide compulsory and non-bureaucratic measures to reduce milk production.”
“Maintaining a level playing field is of paramount importance. We need to examine the degree of retailer concentration and commercial practices across the EU in order to propose new EU legislative measures to manage unfair trading practices in the food supply chain. Anti-trust and competition rules must ensure that the share of individual retailers in a national market is limited,” said Marian-Jean Marinescu MEP, Vice-Chairman of the EPP Group in the European Parliament and Chairman of the EPP Working Group on Budget and Structural Policies.
The EPP Group recognises that the Commission made use of superlevy receipts to make €500m available to the Member States to assist farmers. However, as a substantial part of this amount has not been used, the EPP Group proposes that the unspent funds should be used for measures to relieve the markets.
“The EPP Group will continue to support a common agricultural policy and stand together with our farmers amid the current crisis on the agricultural market,” concluded Albert Deβ and Marian-Jean Marinescu.