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ECR

Agriculture and Rural Development Committee

17 December 2013

Agriculture and Rural Development Committee

The ECR Group believes that the most pressing challenge facing agriculture is the need to increase significantly agricultural production, particularly as the global population is set to reach 9 billion by 2050.

MAIN ECR PRIORITIES

The ECR Group believes that the most pressing challenge facing agriculture is the need to increase significantly agricultural production, particularly as the global population is set to reach 9 billion by 2050.

Food is increasingly becoming a strategic commodity and agricultural markets have been volatile over recent years. With a growing population, our farmers will be asked to produce more food than ever before against a background of increasing resource and environmental pressures. Due to the expected effects of climate change, they will need to do this on less land, and using less energy, less fertiliser, and less water.

The ECR Group believes that agriculture must continue to evolve, to be innovative and to embrace advancement, particularly if it is to meet the environmental, resource and food security challenges of the future and ensure sustainable rural communities.

In order to ensure food security for future generations, it is vital to maintain and develop the productive potential of agriculture in the European Union. This is also important with a view to protecting the environment and to ensure a sustainable and balanced development of agriculture in the EU, especially in less economically developed regions.

Farmers in some Member States are still discriminated against in that they are receiving very low direct payments. Although the most recent CAP reform closes the gap in payments between those countries which receive the most and those which receive the least, this discrimination continues to distort agricultural production within the European Single Market. It is an absolute priority for the ECR Group to ensure a level playing field for farmers throughout the EU.

The ECR Group also recognises that the future of agriculture in Europe is not only an important issue for farmers, but also for consumers.


The ECR Group has ten main priorities in this area:

1. The Common Agricultural policy (CAP) needs significant reform to ensure that taxpayers receive value for money for the investment they make in agriculture, whilst ensuring that the European Union can maintain and increase its production potential in the face of increased price volatility. The recently completed CAP reform does not meet the challenges facing European agriculture.

2. To ensure that the main objectives of the CAP, food security and the sustainable management of natural resources, are adequately met, whilst continuing to develop a greater market orientation of European agriculture.

3. We believe that there needs to be wide-ranging action to simplify the CAP in order to cut red tape, reduce burdensome checks and make the system less repressive and penalties more proportional, particularly in relation to the implementation of Greening measures. While supportive of the recent consultation process on simplification, the ECR Group believes that better regulation is needed and the Mid-Term Review represents an opportunity to improve the functioning of the policy for farmers.

4. We want to see firm action taken in order to combat fraud within Common Agricultural Policy spending.

5. Opening up the international market to high quality products offers European farmers huge export potential. We believe that ambitious and balanced deals, which respect EU standards and sensitive sectors, offer significant market opportunities for high quality European produce, leading to increased job creation and growth for the rural economy. We will be pushing to ensure that the same high standards on quality, health, veterinary issues, and animal welfare that EU farmers and food processors have to meet also apply to importers of food products from third countries.

6. Farmers are particularly vulnerable to the imbalance of power in the food supply chain and are facing increasing pressure from rising input costs and falling farm gate prices. The ECR Group will work to ensure farmers have the tools to enable them to receive a fair income for fair work.

7. The ECR Group believes that there should be a level playing field for farmers throughout the EU to compete on the internal market and highlights the need for an equal and balanced level of direct payments between the old and new Member States.

8. The ECR Group will work to ensure that the regulatory framework governing innovation and new technologies keeps pace with their development, supporting a competitive, forward-looking agricultural sector and not hindering it.

9. The ECR Group believes that the agri-food sector should be the focus of targeted proposals on job creation, growth and investment to ensure that agriculture and the food industry realises its significant potential and maintains a competitive position on the world market.

10. The ECR Group believes that the CAP has made great strides to lessen its effect on the developing world through past reforms, and that the EU is now the world’s largest importer of agricultural produce. However market distorting mechanisms still exist in many sectors and the ECR Group supports their removal in line with similar undertakings from other major global agricultural producers.


MEMBERS

ECR Members of the AGRI Committee:

– Janusz WOJCIECHOWSKI MEP (PL), Committee Vice-Chairman, ECR Deputy Coordinator
– James NICHOLSON MEP (UK), ECR Coordinator
– Richard ASHWORTH MEP (UK)
– Beata GOSIEWSKA MEP (PL)
– Zbigniew KUZMIUK MEP (PL)

Substitute Members:

– Bastiaan BELDER MEP (NL)
– Jørn DOHRMANN MEP (DK)
– Julie GIRLING MEP (UK)
– Anthea McINTYRE MEP (UK)
– Valdemar TOMASEVSKI MEP (LV)


CURRENT WORK BY ECR MEMBERS

The ECR Group will continue to prioritise balanced, workable and better legislation which reduces red-tape and supports the competitiveness of farmers and the EU agriculture sector as a whole in ongoing negotiations on the Animal and Plant Health Package, the reform of the fruit and vegetable sector and in particular, in the current negotiations on the future of the organics sector. Ensuring a fair and functioning food supply chain for both primary producers and the consumer will remain our top priority in relation to the work of the Committee on Agriculture on unfair trading practices.

In September 2014 the ECR Group initiated the European Parliament’s debate on the impact on European agriculture of the trade ban imposed by Russian Federation on agricultural products and foodstuffs from the EU. In response, the European Commission opened support measures to assist producers and have implemented further temporary exceptional support measures in order to improve the situation on the EU markets caused by this embargo.

The ECR Group has taken the lead in Parliament in relation to dairy issues. The situation facing dairy producers in the post-quota market, the impact of the superlevy, the importance of Producer Organisations and the need to increase the role of the Milk Market Observatory are key issues for the Group.

As co-authors of the Committee’s Opinion on TTIP we will be seeking an ambitious and balanced deal which strictly maintains European high standards on food safety, human health and animal health. Agriculture cannot be used as a “bargaining chip” and the ECR Group is committed to the protection of European high standards, the protection of sensitive sectors and securing a level playing field for European producers.

ECR & CAP Reform

All ECR full members were involved at every stage of the CAP reform process and were present at the final negotiations. ECR involvement ensured that the final CAP agreement, although nowhere near good enough for European farming, was better focused on the challenges facing European farmers than the original Commission proposal.

Specifically the ECR Group achieved the following:
– A fairer distribution of payments between new and old Member States, although still nowhere near enough to ensure the level playing field the ECR wants to see.

– Greater flexibility on exchange rates, giving farmers more certainty about the value of their payments.

– More national flexibility on how to administer the CAP, particularly with regards to capping of payments to large farms, the small farmers scheme and how to administer the new greening payment.

– The rejection of many new market management proposals which threatened to take the CAP back to the old days of food mountains and wine lakes.

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