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Market regulation and fair prices: key to the Green Deal objectives and a new CAP based on food sovereignty

9 November 2023

Farmers and producers from European Coordination Via Campesina (ECVC) and the European Milk Board (EMB) came together today to highlight the importance of agricultural market regulation and guaranteeing fair prices in order to achieve the Green Deal goals and move towards a new CAP within the framework of food sovereignty, during an event co-organised with the European Greens in the Parliament.

As part of the event, ECVC and EMB presented potential market regulation tools that could be used to halt the worrying disappearance of farms across Europe*, ensure Europe has more farmers and farmers that earn a decent income, and stabilise production. Using the milk sector as an example, together, the two organisations underlined how market regulation will also enable the open strategic autonomy of the EU and therefore it is key in tackling other pressing issues in the agricultural sector, such as generational renewal and the transition to more sustainable and agroecological farming models. The implementation and impact of these tools is also explored in ECVC’s new publication “Putting market regulation at the heart of the debate about the CAP”, presented today.

As highlighted by Andoni Garcia Arriola, Coordinating Committee member of ECVC, “good examples of market regulation tools do exist, such as the European Directive on Unfair Trading Practices. In the Spanish State, this has been translated into the agri-food chain functioning law which ban and punish the purchasing at prices that do not cover production costs, in each section of the chain, starting from the farmer. Farmers can anonymously report any purchase of their products at a lower price at the cost of production”.

As Mr Garcia Arriola pointed out, “This is a prime example of how Member States must act to protect small and medium-scale farmers and consumer, and how to move towards fairer economically, environmentally and socially sustainable food chains.”

However, this is not enough. As described in the European Parliament resolution of 19 October 2023 on generational renewal in the EU farms of the future ( 2022/2182(INI) ) : “agricultural income remains below the average for the rest of the economy in almost all Member States, standing at 47 % of average gross wages and salaries in the EU economy”. It is time to address this problem if we want to incorporate more people into agriculture.

Vincent Delobel, ECVC representative and young breeder in Wallonia underlines that “a profound reform of the CAP must guarantee a fair income for farmers, as recognized in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas (UNDROP).”

Public stocks and quotas were also highlighted as key to ensuring stable prices for farmers at the same time as guaranteeing affordable prices for the general public, particularly in times of crisis or crop fluctuations. As Kjartan Poulsen, president of EMB underlined, “We think it is possible to find common solutions that would help the dairy sector and address the challenges of the Green Deal at the same time, if fair, cost-covering agriculture is set as a serious political priority and if the appropriate instruments to achieve it are also put in place.”

Pierre Maison, member of the ECVC coordination committee, was clear in his conclusion: “Regulation of agricultural markets is the missing piece needed to achieve the European Green Deal and Europe's Open Strategic Autonomy. This regulation is essential if we are to achieve food sovereignty and food system sustainability in Europe.”

* The number of farms in the EU-27 declined by about 37 % between 2005 and 2020, with a downward trend and with small farms experiencing the strongest decline, https://www.europarl.europa.eu/doceo/document/TA-9-2023-0376_EN.html

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