French farmers and MPs call for the creation of European food stocks

The closure of French food markets, decreed on 23 March by the authorities, has put a further halt to the distribution of many fresh products.

French agricultural producers and MPs are urging the European Commission to set up food stocks to avoid falling prices and the destruction of certain food products. EURACTIV France reports.

The fear of certain food products being in short supply and surpluses that could jeopardise European farms are causing tension on agricultural markets.

“Some agricultural products will soon be in surplus because they cannot be transported or sold. […] It is urgent and essential that Europe speeds up the establishment of food stocks as provided for in European regulations,” French Socialist MEP Eric Andrieu asked the European Commission in a written submission.

Regulating agricultural markets

This regulatory mechanism could prevent the collapse of prices for certain foodstuffs that are in short supply or in demand on the catering market.

The closure of French food markets, decreed on 23 March by the authorities, has further halted the distribution of many fresh products, while the closure of restaurants and catering facilities in most European countries has also jeopardised a major outlet for French production.

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While local initiatives are multiplying to enable farmers to sell their produce, “we will not be able to find outlets for everything,” said Christian Lambert, the president of France’s main agricultural union, FNSEA, during a press conference on Twitter.

The FNSEA has asked Agriculture Minister Didier Guillaume to relay the demand for the creation of food stocks at EU level.

For the time being, the agricultural ministry has partially relayed the union’s request for certain products only, namely milk and meat, by asking for private storage authorisations to be paid for by producers.

“Europe can and must provide aid to producers and industrialists who put products into storage that cannot find takers. This would make it possible to avoid ultra-saturation of the market and the catastrophic consequences of such a situation, with totally unstable prices, great precariousness for producers and also an immense risk of food wastage,” Andrieu pointed out.

For the time being, the European Commission has not announced any specific measures, even though the legal mechanisms already exist, the FNSEA stressed.

“The tools exist, the CMO [common organisation of the markets in agricultural products] offers several mechanisms that the European Commission can activate in case of serious market imbalances. This is indeed the case of the current situation, which unfortunately meets all the criteria: it was neither foreseeable nor intrinsic to the agricultural sector,” the organisation said in a press release.

COVID-19: France calls unemployed to work in fields as borders stay closed

The French government has called on the technically unemployed French to make themselves available to help farmers with seasonal harvests. But such ‘agricultural patriotism’ does not bode well with the tightening of containment. EURACTIV France reports.

[Edited by Zoran Radosavljevic]

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