EMB Newsletter October 2014
Dear Dairy Farmers and Interested Parties,
The scale and nature of the challenges facing the EU’s farming sector are such that certain characteristics must be a prerequisite for anyone seeking the office of EU Agriculture and Rural Development Commissioner. They should be determined and dogged and have an in-depth understanding of all aspects of their briefs – most specifically, they must be absolutely determined to defend EU farmers and primary food producers from the multiple threats posed by, in the first instance, Mercosur and TTIP talks. Very few could argue that Phil Hogan does not possess precisely those dogged and combative qualities and that is why ICMSA welcomed his appointment. EU farmers need someone who’s going to fight on their behalf and it’s our belief that in Phil Hogan they’ve got someone who will do exactly that.
In recognising this appointment, I’d like to stress that ICMSA has, in common with many others in Ireland, reservations about the policy of water charges introduced by (then) Minister Hogan and we were particularly concerned by how they would affect farmers. We were - and remain – very critical of the grossly unfair multi-metering aspect which will heavily penalise fragmented farm holdings. Mr Hogan knows what we think - we have told him often enough.
But if, on occasion, we have been frustrated by his ability to ‘dig in’ and adopt an unyielding stance, we are now encouraged by the knowledge that that this same drive and refusal to budge on what he believes to be key principles will now be employed for the welfare and betterment of the EU’s farmers and their families.
It seems the very first item on the agenda will be the ongoing crisis management arising from the Russian ban and the possibility of that being relaxed as the peace deal brokered with Ukraine (hopefully) holds. Without denigrating the threat posed by the ban, the damage that would be inflicted by flawed Mercosur agreement would be multiple times worse and would almost certainly provide a fatal blow to EU beef production. Similar levels of damage would be inflicted on the EU’s dairy producers and it would be a mistake to assume that such a disaster could never happen. There are a number of Member States, the UK prominent amongst them, who would have little or no compunction sacrificing EU farmers on the altar of a free trade agreement that would allow them unhindered access to Brazilian or Argentinean markets for their financial services or tech exports.
The paramount question, of course, will be the degree of market-monitoring and supply-controls necessary in the post-quota scenario fast approaching. That will have to be fully explored and serious consideration in this direction increasingly looks more like a probability than a possibility – particularly if the downward price pressures in the markets continue.
John Comer, Member of the EMB Board and ICMSA President
The new Agriculture Commissioner: Phil Hogan
New Commissioner must put responsible milk policy into practice
The Russian import embargo – measures for the milk market
Spain: OPL Meeting with supermarket chain Mercadona
France: The current situation in Brittany
The Swiss milk market: here to stay - Lactofama
Brief news from Brussels
The key dates for the EMB Board in October 2014 are:
- 2.10.: Ministry of Agriculture meeting in Spain
- 7.10.: Board meeting in Brussels
- 7.-8.10.: Talks with MEPs
- 9.10.: Civial Dialogue Group meeting (Animal Products)
- 14.10.: Meeting with the Lithuanian Ministry of Agriculture
- 22.10.: Workshop: Assessment of the Consequences of the Abolition of Quotas
- 24.10.: Civial Dialogue Group meeting (Direct Payments & Greening)
- 28.10.: Civial Dialogue Group meeting (Animal Products)