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Monday, 15 November 2010

Cereal price hike: MEPs debate resulting crisis in EU livestock sector

What would happen if farmers could no longer afford to feed their animals? With EU cereal prices at a two-year high due to bad weather and speculation we could face a significant drop in meat production. On November 11  MEPs debated what action the EU can take with Agriculture Commissioner Dacian Cioloș and adopted a resolution calling on the Commission to ensure that the impact of speculation across the agricultural sector will be limited.Northern Irish MEP James Nicholson (EPP) explained "the livestock sector is experiencing difficulties due to a range of factors: rising production costs, competition from imports and rising feed costs".Spanish Socialist Iratxe García Pérez said cereals account for 60% of production costs and have risen 50% over the last 2 months because of speculation.Many MEPs welcomed the recent Commission decision to release cereals from storage to keep feed material prices down and help livestock farmers. Mr Ciolos told Parliament that "the tension had been taken out of the market" after the cereal intervention measure was announced.He went on to say that said the problem does not stem from a shortage but from speculation, which he said the Commission intended to tackle. He said that the forthcoming reform of the Common Agriculture Policy would include a new mechanism for income volatility.Mr Nicholson expressed his fears about the security of food supplies in Europe as we are "too dependent on 3rd countries". Several MEPs criticized the imbalance created by the high standards for EU farmers versus standards applied to imported meat. "Animal welfare standards must be required for products coming to our markets" said Polish MEP Janusz Wojciechowski (ECR). During the debate several MEP brought up the issue of prices at the farm gate and those paid by consumers. Irish MEP Liam Aylward (ALDE) said that "the Commission must put in place measures to close the gap between prices paid by consumers and prices received by producers". Romanian MEP Rareş-Lucian Niculescu (EPP) criticised the high margins that "end up in the hands of the distributors".French Green MEP José Bové commented that "farmers have to survive on €700-800 per month. Consumers pay €17 per kg for steak in the supermarket, but for the same product farmers are paid just €3 per kg. Is that fair?" He added: "This crisis is going to destroy farmers in Europe".The debate followed an oral question from MEPs from the European People's Party, the Socialist and Democrats and the Europe of Conservatives and Reformists Groups in the European Parliament.

 Source: European Parliament