The European Farmers and Agri-Cooperatives organizations, Copa-Cogeca, called on Tuesday for a “solid” Common Agriculture Policy, CAP, to protect European farmers from Mercosur (Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay) countries’ competition.
Copa-Cogeca representatives participated in an open conference sponsored by the European Commission in the framework of a round of consultations for a review of PAC which is forecasted to be implemented in 2013, when current EC budget expires.
European farmers and cattle breeders are demanding a strong position and retaining the aid and support system so as to address the “ever more onerous” EU regulations, price volatility and greater support at the moment of ensuring a sustained food supply to the 500 million EC consumers.
Padraig Walshe head of Copa (farmers’ organizations) pointed out to the ‘contradictions’ in the EC policies agriculture policies.
“At the same time that EC pushes for a greener PAC and imposes a growing number of environment and food safety regulations, the EC opens to Mercosur countries which do not respect or abide by those regulations”, said Walshe.
This is particularly disturbing in the event of opening the EU market to food produce from Brazil where “pesticides and hormones for cattle banned in the EU” are the norm.
“This will inevitably cause a greater deforestation in those countries (Mercosur) as well as an increase in unemployment in the EU rural areas”, added Walshe.
Copa.Cogeca also complained bitterly about the ‘critical’ situation of EU farmers’ because “of the huge fall in income, 12% during 2009”. And “future does not look brighter: price volatility is on the rise”, continued Walshe.
The farmers’ leader also brought up the issue of the EU offer to cut agricultural tariffs by 60% as part of the international negotiations for the liberalization of world trade.
“To make things worse, we’ve heard some delegates proposing that European farmers be squeezed through the imposition of ever more strict regulations and the cut of aid in the next PAC”, insisted Walshe.
“It’s completely absurd. If support aid is cut, EU agriculture will inevitable become even more intensive”.
Paolo Bruni, president of Cogeca warned that “you can’t play with the 28 million jobs currently generated by the agro-business in rural areas”, which are at risk if they abandon the land that they have toiled for generations.