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Tuesday, 17 December 2013

New local farming and direct sales labelling scheme

Ministers took stock of a report on local farming presented by the Commission at the last Council meeting on Agriculture and Fisheries held in Brussels on 16 and 17 December 2013. In this document on the case for a new local farming and direct sales labelling scheme to assist producers in marketing their produce locally (17572/13), the Commission has provided factual elements to facilitate a debate on whether a new EU label should be considered as well as on the broader issues of local farming and direct sales. The report considers that local farming and direct sales are a reality within the European Union and will continue to be part of European agriculture.
Describing the main features of local farming, short food supply chains and direct sales in the EU, the report and the accompanying Staff Working Document examine the challenges faced by small-scale producers and short food supply chains and present existing policy tools at EU level.
This report explores the possibilities of adopting a local farming and direct sales labelling scheme in the future, as requested by the current legislation on quality schemes for agricultural products and foodstuffs. The report has shown the following: (1) There is a demand for a genuine farm product sold in short food supply chains, as well as the need to identify it; (2) There are large differences among the member states with regard to development of direct sales; (3) The development of short supply chains faces numerous challenges which should be addressed with instruments available at EU and national level other than a labeling scheme; (4) A possible new label should be simple and unburdensome for producers while at the same time being controllable and ensuring sufficient credibility for consumers and avoiding confusion; (5) A new label could add value to products generated from local agriculture if it went beyond direct sales and if member states were to ensure that it is integrated with or linked to other measures.
The Commission calls on the European Parliament, the Council, Member States and regions to reflect on whether existing policy tools and measures are appropriate and provide adequate flexibility for this type of farming and sales. Demand for quality, fresh and local food is increasing across the EU, often combined with environmental, climate and social expectations, based on the assumption that local, seasonal and ecologically-sound food chains have the potential to contribute to reducing carbon emissions and food waste.

Source: European Commission, Council of the European Union