Today, Copa and Cogeca Praesidium members held an extraordinary online meeting to discuss the ongoing energy crisis and its impact on the agriculture sector and food production. The meeting took place at a key moment for EU decisions, coinciding with the EU Head of State gathering in Prague.
The context of rising costs of energy and its impacts on the prices of electricity, gas, fuel, fertilisers and other inputs to the agricultural sector have put farmers and agri-cooperatives in many sectors under great strain. With soaring gas and electricity prices many producers are on the brink of collapse and are re considering the continuation of their activity. Even if farm-gate prices for farmers have increased this has not covered the much higher increases in production costs with consequences due to rising inflation.
“Eating this winter will be as strategic as heating or lighting our households. In these extraordinary circumstances, with a war in Europe and the weaponising of food and energy supplies by Russia, it is essential to have an effective, common and united European response that secures the needs of the European Unions’ key sectors and its citizens, while maintaining a well-functioning single market” underlined Copa President Christiane Lambert.
Certainty on the sector’s access to energy and on reduced volatility of energy prices will be decisive. European Commission and Member States must recognise the strategic role of European farmers, agri-cooperatives and the agri-food supply chain by prioritising the sector in Member State gas rationing plans in line with the Commission’s July Communication and energy reductions measures; exempting the agri- food production chain from the requirement to reduce energy consumption during peak hours. Diversifying the energy supply with the key role of bioenergy/crop biofuels and the potential of decentralised on-farm renewable energy production is also key.
“We call for specific, immediate and short-medium EU-level measures for the farming and forestry sectors including financial interventions to ensure liquidity so that undisrupted food and energy supply can be guaranteed throughout the winter and beyond” added Cogeca President Ramon Armengol.
In regard to the cap on the price of gas used for general electricity, Copa and Cogeca take note of the announcement by Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and we invite the Commission to come up with urgent and effective proposals on how to make a temporary gas price cap work. It is key that such proposals effectively reduce energy/gas/electricity bills while not disrupting supplies and the energy market in the long run.
Specifically on fertilisers, we welcome the recent announcement of EU’s Agriculture Commissioner Wojciechowski on a new strategy on fertilisers. Fertilisers must be available and affordable in order for the farmers to guarantee sufficient food production.A key measure, as outlined in Copa and Cogeca’s action plan, is the suspension of import tariff barriers for UAN reports from Trinidad and Tobago and the USA, together with the suspension of conventional duties for as long as there is a risk of shortages on the European market.
European farmers and cooperatives remain committed to providing consumers with safe, quality food and to be able to continue doing this, EU action is urgently needed.