Copa & Cogeca welcomed the Slovak presidency initiative to focus EU Farm Ministers talks on strengthening farmers positioning in the food chain so that they can get a better and fairer price for their produce.

Speaking at the Ministers’ meeting in Bratislava, Cogeca President Thomas Magnusson said “The imbalance of power in the food supply chain has been having a severe impact on farmers for many years, resulting in the continuous erosion of their margins. Farmers are being squeezed by both the upstream and downstream sectors, with the retail sector dominated by just a few operators in many Member States. We therefore welcome the Slovak Presidency’s calls to get a fair deal on their margins. This is the only way to ensure that consumers have access to quality food at a reasonable price throughout the EU. Only a fair, transparent and balanced food chain will ensure a sustainable farming sector”.

“To achieve this, we need to adopt and implement at EU level a legislative framework combined with voluntary codes of good practices to combat Unfair Trading Practices (UTPs) in the food chain and ensure that the Single Market functions properly. Such a system must be overseen by an independent third party adjudicator that together with its enforcement role can receive and act on anonymous complaints. The EU independent third party adjudicator should liaise with its counterparts in Member States and coordinate with the EU and Member States bodies responsible for implementing legislation including on competition”, Copa & Cogeca Secretary-General said.

“When unfair and unethical business behaviour leads to financial gains, only legislation backed by independent and robust enforcement can deliver the necessary results. We need a change in business culture! On top of the specific measures to combat UTPs, it is necessary to implement both at EU and Member State level market observatories to look at prices and margins with a harmonised methodology to provide information on price transmission and transparency along the whole food supply chain”, Pesonen added.

“Concentrating supply and adding value to agricultural produce is key to strengthening farmers positioning in the food chain. Support under the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) to agricooperatives and Producer Organisations (POs) helps farmers to do it. For farmers to use and benefit from this support, they need legal certainty vis a vis competition policy. In this respect, it would be beneficial to look at revising competition policy to address not only consumer concerns but also those of producers”, Pesonen said.

After the talks, where many Ministers supported the need to boost farmers positioning and combat UTPs, the Presidency plans to adopt EU Council conclusions on this in December. “We fully support the Slovak Minister Gabriel Matecna commitment to ensuring farmers “have fair trade conditions throughout the common market”, Pesonen concluded.

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Copa Cogeca