A wave of agricultural discontent has swept through Europe in recent weeks, fueled by escalating input costs, extreme weather events and economic and bureaucratic uncertainty. Farmers, grappling with these challenges, are expressing deep concern and a pervasive sense of being misunderstood according to all the organisations affiliated with the European Farmers European Agri-Cooperatives Copa and Cogeca, who say in this statement they are waiting for the European executive to respond.
"The strategic dialogue announced by the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, during her State of the Union address in September is a welcome initiative, albeit one which has been slow to materialise. Furthermore, the scope of the discussions remains particularly vague. We take note of the invitation received for a first meeting on 25th January and we hope for clarifications soon.
We want an in-depth debate with the Commission and stakeholders which places the reality of farming at the heart of discussions and we remain convinced, as President von der Leyen said, "that farming and nature conservation can go hand in hand". Europe needs both!
In the midst of this, the European regulatory machine continues to operate at full speed, ignoring the geopolitical, climatic and economic context that is undermining farms and farmers' incomes. We deplore this! As we head down the home stretch to the European elections, we are witnessing an upsurge in regulatory decisions affecting agriculture, which is giving rise to a profound lack of understanding on the ground.
Decisions range from the Industrial Emissions Directive (IED) and nature restoration to animal welfare during transport, packaging and forestry monitoring regulations. Discussions are also moving forward on agreements such as Mercosur and expanding the borders for Ukrainian agricultural products to enter European markets.
It is imperative that the European Commission open up discussions on regulations to wider debates encompassing concrete solutions, tools and funding to support a genuine European agricultural ambition. The strategic dialogue on the future of agriculture must reinstate agriculture, competitiveness and farmers' incomes and the coherence of EU agricultural policies as a strategic priority.
Copa and Cogeca stand ready to play our part. We want to engage in dialogue! Let’s buckle down and ensure that happens for the sake of our farmers and agri-cooperatives," the statement ends.