Farmers Association Welcomes EC Proposals on Safer Food Chain

EU – Pan-european farmers' association, Copa-Cogeca, and key stakeholders have responded to new EU Commission package on healthier animals and plants for a safer food chain.
calendar icon 9 May 2013
clock icon 4 minute read

At a high-level Conference organised with the Irish Presidency, Copa-Cogeca and other key stakeholders presented detailed views on the EU Commission package designed to strengthen animal and plant health, seeds and safety measures in Europe.

Over 150 EU Stakeholders and representatives from the EU and Member States Institutions, including DG SANCO Commissioner Borg, attended the two-day conference this week to debate the Commission’s package on healthier animals and plants for a safer food chain.

Copa-Cogeca Secretary-General Pekka Pesonen commented: "The package will help to make Europe
more dynamic in terms of its response to new risks and safety standards. Up against increasing challenges like rising food demand, scarce natural resources, emerging risks and pests in Europe, together with a need to ensure a more productive, competitive and sustainable EU agriculture, it is crucial to ensure that everyone is responsible for healthy animals and plants for a safer food chain Europe. In particular, I am pleased to see a major simplification of legislation with a reduction from almost 70 pieces of legislation to just five. When the more detailed implementing rules are developed, stakeholders’ expertise must be taken into account both at Member State and at EU level."

Luc Peeters, Chairman of the Phytosanitary Working Party stressed: "We welcome the new possibility introduced in the legislation which will enable farmers and forestry owners to be compensated for for the market value of their plants which have to be destroyed due to the presence of priority pests. But we urge the EU Institutions to put it in place without delay in the new EU budget for 2014-2020 as European farmers are currently having to bear the costs themselves."

Per Olsen, Chairperson of the Copa-Cogeca Working Party on Animal Health and Animal Welfare went on to welcome the inclusion of biosecurity measures in the package which should help to prevent the entry of diseases to the EU and maintain the high EU sanitary status. This will help to gain consumer trust and facilitate trade both in the internal market and towards third country.

Thor Gunnar Kofoed, Chairman of the Seeds Working Party highlighted the important role played by seeds and propagating material, being the first step in the chain. The availability of high quality seeds must be a top priority to ensure sustainability, productivity and variety of products in Europe. Proportionate risk prevention measures must also cover all sectors, including niche markets, to maintain quality seeds. Pests and diseases do not know borders."

Commissioner Borg meanwhile insisted that the legislation won’t kill seed production, nor traditional varieties. He also highlighted the need for better enforcement of legislation and for controls and sanctions to be stepped up. Copa-Cogeca also believes that it is vital for European farmers and agri-cooperatives to have efficient and effective official controls. Official controls must continue to be publicly financed - EU farmers and agri-cooperatives will not accept a further increase in their costs.

The Irish Presidency went on to emphasise the need for a risk based approach and aims to make
progress on the legislation under its Presidency. Whilst MEPs Mariad McGuinness and George Lyon insisted on the need to step up research and development to ensure a competitive EU agriculture sector. Copa-Cogeca also welcomed the risk based approach proposed by the Commission as well as a more transparent and harmonised approach on official controls across EU Member States.

In a parallel event organised with the International Biological Manufacturers Association and the European Crop Protection Association, the importance of ensuring that a wide range of tools are available to farmers was highlighted.

Michael Priestley

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