We must grow as much as we can to ensure food security

Yellow crops under blue sky

The Russian attack on Ukraine has many consequences and one of them you can already feel in your pocket when buying bread. Prices are going up.

Ukraine and Russia are both among the leading global wheat producers and the war has already shaken the markets and raised the prices. They are also among the global leaders in maize, rapeseeds, sunflower seeds and sunflower oil production. Over 50 percent of the EU’s imported maize last year came from Ukraine as well as 86 percent of imported sunflower oil. Some shortages can already be seen on the shelves.

Many European farmers feed their animals with Ukrainian soybeans and fertilise their fields with nutrients from Ukraine, Belarus and Russia. Now, lots of these sources have been cut due to the war and the financial sanctions.

Also, higher gas prices and shortages have caused severe troubles in fertiliser production which means that a good number of farmers haven’t been able to buy what they need. This will cut the harvest in a situation where Europe should be growing as much as possible to compensate the gaps, not only in our markets but in the global market alike. In North Africa, where Ukrainian wheat import has been of vital importance, rising bread prices may at worst be a source of political turbulence. The volatile global market also affects our internal market.

In this landscape, the EPP Group in the European Parliament urges the European Commission to ensure the correct functioning of the internal market in agricultural products, taking tough action if necessary against any form of export bans imposed by Member States. Such bans would not be in line with the Treaties and would seriously undermine European solidarity as we face up to this exceptional crisis.

We must grow more food than ever before and our farmers must have all the possibilities and means to do so.

But above all, the very essence should now be that we must grow more food than ever before and our farmers must have all the possibilities and means to do so. Food security must be our overriding priority. This is why we, the EPP Group, have asked the Commission for rapid action.

Firstly, farmers should be able to use the land under the Ecological Focus Areas to increase production of protein crops and temporarily be allowed to apply plant protection products for this. We must also consider a temporary suspension of the set-aside obligations foreseen in the new CAP that enters into force in 2023.

Secondly, now is not the time to introduce any legislative proposal that could cut production, nor can we have any extra burdens for farmers. Legislative initiatives concerning nature restoration, plant protection products and due diligence, among others, should be postponed until the impacts of the crisis are fully known.

Thirdly, we must stand ready to use all available instruments under the CAP to stabilise markets which are already being affected and which may be further affected by possible Russian import embargoes.

And finally, we call on the Commission to present, without delay, a holistic strategic plan to ensure food security for the EU. The whole of Europe, farmers and consumers, are here together. The better we safeguard our future, the better we serve our brothers and sisters beyond our borders where there will be no harvest in the tracks of Russian tanks. This is the time for seeding, but it won’t be long.

Note to editors

The EPP Group is the largest political group in the European Parliament with 176 Members from all EU Member States

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Budget, agriculture & regional funding