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Albert Jan Maat is the new president of Copa Cogeca

LTO president Albert Jan Maat was chosen as the new president of the European farmers organisation Copa. This umbrella organisation includes around 60 agricultural organisation from all EU member states. This makes Copa the representative in Brussels for 13 million farming families. The nomination is for two years. Maat was already the vice president of Copa for the last four years. He has taken over from the German Gerd Sonnleitner. Maat has been the president of the agri- and horticultural organisation LTO Nederland. Before this he was a member of the European Parliament (EVP) for seven years.

The farmers and horticulturists in Europe will have big changes as well as challenges, according to the new Copa president. "We are at the verge of the implementation of the new common agricultural policy (CAP) for the next six years. There are also negotiations under way between the European Union and the United States about the trade of agricultural products. The interests of farmers and horticulturists in Europe are at stake. In the future a lot will be expected of farmers in the area of environment, animal welfare, use of water and energy, at the same time that we're trying to become economically healthy. This will take input from all of us."

Maat points ahead to the 2014 elections for the European Parliament. He says that it is very important that all new members of parliament realise the importance of agriculture and food production in Europe, and therefore the vitality of farmland.

The biggest challenge for him personally is to appear as strong as possible as European farmers among the decision makers in Brussels, despite the big differences in agriculture in the various EU countries as far as knowledge, sustainability and techniques are concerned. "The Dutch agriculture and horticulture is far ahead in most aspects. This way I can represent the role of a figurehead quite well."

Source: LTO

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