Mercosur controversy: The EU Parliament voted for a text during the EU Parliament plenary session this week emphasising that the EU-Mercosur agreement cannot be ratified as it stands.
Organic rules postponement: Parliament approved plans to delay new organic rules by one year, saying that delaying new EU rules on producing and labelling of organic products will give farmers and national authorities preoccupied with the effects of the pandemic more time to adjust.
ECA on plastic: There is a significant risk that the EU will not meet its plastic packaging recycling targets for 2025 and 2030, according to a review by the European Court of Auditors. The update of the legal framework for plastic recycling in 2018 reflects the EU’s increased ambitions and could help boost recycling capacity.
Short-term outlook: The third edition of the short-term outlook was published this week which found that, among other things, projections for exports of meat, which were up by more than 15% in the first half of the year, have been revised downwards to +2% due to cases of African Swine Fever cases in wild boars in Germany. These cases resulted in immediate trade restrictions of exports from Germany to key partners, including China, South Korea and Japan. Export growth is now 10% lower for 2021, although the report concluded that this level of growth would not have continued even without the ASF outbreak.
New stakeholder platform: The EU Commission has launched a new multi-stakeholder platform to help protect and restore the world’s forests. In addition to being a forum for exchanges, the platform is to serve as a policy-making tool for informing the Commission’s ongoing work on a legislative proposal to minimise the risk that products linked to deforestation be sold in the European market, planned for the second quarter of 2021.
Geographical indications: The European Commission approved three new geographical indications this week: ‘Olio lucano’ from Italy, ‘Varaždinski klipič’ from Croatia, and ‘Pebre bord de Mallorca’ from Spain
Cage free farming: 86 MEPs wrote to the European Commission this week urging it to phase out the use of cages for farm animals
Agrifood news from the Capitals
French lawmakers on Tuesday (6 October) approved a draft bill allowing sugar beet growers to use pesticides that are banned to protect honeybees, a move welcomed by farmers hit by crop disease but condemned by green groups as more backsliding by the government. Read more here. (EURACTIV.fr)
German Social Democrats want changes to the Mercosur Deal to add social and environmental standards. “A year ago the world looked spellbound at the burning Amazon. This year, the situation is again dramatic: current satellite images show more than 32,000 sources of fire in the rainforest area. This is an increase of 61 percent compared to September 2019, and Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro is doing nothing to contain or prevent the devastating forest fires,” the parliamentary group’s Vice Chairs Sören Bartol and Matthias Miersch told the German Press Agency. This is just the latest in German politicians criticising the deal after Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU), Agriculture Minister Julia Klöckner (CDU) and Bavarian leader Markus Söder both expressed their doubts at the trade deal being enacted in its present form. (Sarah Lawton | EURACTIV.de)
The National Farmers Union (NFU) Sugar has urged the government to abandon its proposed tariff-free quota for raw cane sugar imports because of its potential to undercut British growers with sugar grown in ways that would be illegal in the UK, threaten the viability of a British success story and undermine the government’s commitment to developing countries. The UK government has proposed a 260,000 tonne tariff-free quota, something NFU Sugar board chairman Michael Sly said could lead to growers choosing not to grow the crop any longer and would threaten the future of the sector. (Natasha Foote | EURACTIV.com)
Irish Farmers Association Dairy Chairman Tom Phelan has urged all milk processors to return a fair price to its suppliers, especially those that offered below average prices last month. “There is scope for at least a 1c/L milk price rise, particularly from milk processors that have been paying below average milk prices. Farmers deserve a level playing field when it comes to milk price,” he said. (Natasha Foote | EURACTIV.com)
The agreement on the wholesale price of milk in the Lombardy region has given rise to controversies, L’informatore agrario reported. Crucial for the production of top seller cheese Grana Padano, the agreement was signed between Italy’s farmers’ association Coldiretti and Italatte, a company of the French Lactalis group. However, other farmers lobbies, such as Cia and Confagricoltura, said that new contracts are not in line with market trends and risk bringing the sector to a standstill. (EURACTIV.com)
On Wednesday (7 October), Austria’s Agriculture Minister Elisabeth Köstinger (ÖVP) announced that the country will be extending its hardship funds for agriculture. “So far, almost 5,000 applications have been received from the agricultural sector. Around €6.5 million have thus been received by farmers. Since the hardship fund is still needed, we are doubling the term to twelve months,” Köstinger said. The extension will allow beneficiaries to receive up to €30,000.
A new government was formed on Tuesday (6 October) and Grzegorz Puda was appointed Minister of Agriculture. Trained in the field of animal husbandry, Puda is in favour of banning the breeding of animals for fur and backs a recent law designed to protect animals. However, his appointment was followed by protests all over the country on Wednesday (October 7th), as agricultural organisations in Poland oppose the new law. (Mateusz Kucharczyk | EURACTIV.pl)
Romania’s corn and sunflower crops have been seriously affected drought, according to agriculture minister Adrian Oros. The minister said the final data is not available yet, but, according to estimations, the affected area is around 1 million hectares, “mainly corn and sunflower.” Oros said the government will try to compensate farmers for the drought-induced losses. Earlier this year, the government launched a scheme to aid farmers whose harvests were harmed by the lack of rainfalls. The aid was targeted to farmers that lost part of the autumn-sown crops, and the scheme was approved by the EU Commission in September. (Bogdan Neagu | EURACTIV.ro)