The EU should do more to help farmers earn a “fair return from the food chain”, the European Parliament has warned.
MEPs this week (7 July) adopted two non-binding resolutions calling for the European Commission and EU member states to do more to support dairy farmers and fruit and vegetable growers.
It said the EU should tackle “abuses in the retail market” by tabling legislative proposals to address “unfair trading practices” and improving recognition of producer organisations (POs) to boost farmers’ power in contract negotiations.
MEPs also called on the Commission and member states to develop better tools to help farmers deal with market disturbances and diversify export markets to help EU producers deal with the Russian ban.
The ‘milk resolution’, drafted by UK MEP James Nicholson, found that the Commission had failed to recognise the scale of the new challenges faced by the sector - including the end of milk quotas, the prolonged Russian embargo and continued price volatility. It called for the EU to enable the recently established Milk Market Observatory to send earlier and more frequent crisis warnings and recommend necessary actions.
NFU dairy chairman Rob Harrison said there was also “overwhelming” MEP support for a review of the milk intervention price and how it is calculated.
The fruit and vegetable resolution, drafted by Portuguese MEP Nuno Melo, said the EU should do more to encourage growers to join POs.
British Growers Association CEO Jack Ward welcomed MEP support for POs but stressed growers need a system that was “flexible and responsive” to the rapidly changing retail market. “Sometimes the rules and regulations you have to comply with to maintain PO status don’t recognise is happening in food retailing.”