Italy urges overhaul of EU farm rules as war in Ukraine hits supplies
Italy’s agriculture minister said on Thursday that the European Union should delay the implementation of policies that are holding back agricultural production given the supply crisis caused by the war in Ukraine, and suspend agricultural rules. state aid for the agri-food industry.
The war caused shortages of many agricultural products, which were aggravated by export bans imposed by several countries, including EU member Hungary.
The European Union is a net exporter of cereals, with a substantial surplus of wheat, but imports maize (maize) for the livestock sector and Ukraine is one of its main suppliers.
Southern European countries, such as Italy and Spain, are particularly dependent on imports.
Stefano Patuanelli said in a cabinet report that talks at EU level were urgently needed, aimed at “reshaping the common agricultural policy and removing state aid rules for the agricultural and food”.
There are ways to diversify supply markets, he added, noting that Italy could look to France and Germany for increased wheat supplies.
Common Agricultural Policy
The Common Agricultural Policy originally provided strong incentives to increase production and led to oversupply of many commodities, but in recent years there has been an increasing emphasis on policies that reduce the environmental footprint of agriculture.
The transition to such policies should accelerate when the next CAP enters into force on 1 January 2023.
Patuanelli listed a series of changes Italy wanted to make to the CAP, including postponing the implementation of CAP measures introduced to limit production.
Others included: “allow productive use of fallow areas and all grazing areas, even if partially occupied by uncultivated vegetation” and “remove the rule not to increase irrigation areas, so as to to increase the productivity of the agri-food sector”.
Italy’s farming lobby Confagricoltura on Monday called on the European Commission to end attempts at “food protectionism” sparked by the war in Ukraine and the breeders’ association warned on Tuesday that reduced maize supplies had caused a shortage of fodder which would have “devastating effects”. ‘.
Confagricoltura referred to a decision by Hungary to halt wheat exports to ensure domestic supplies and contain costs, and a decision by Bulgaria to increase its grain stocks, with a consequent reduction in exports of this country too.
Confagricoltura also said in its statement that a decision by Russia to suspend fertilizer exports was “very worrying … in terms of price and supply” and could affect Italy’s crops.
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Russia, which has been hit by a wave of Western sanctions since the invasion, produces 15% of the world’s fertilizer and the EU and Brazil are its main markets, the agricultural lobby said.
The stockbreeders’ body Assalzoo said stocks of raw materials used to produce fodder would last between 20 days and a month, after which animals that farmers are unable to feed would have to be slaughtered.
This will trigger “collapse in the production of animal feed such as beef, pork, poultry, milk, butter and cheese, eggs and fish”, he said.
News by Reuters, edited by ESM- your source for the latest supply chain news. Click subscribe to register ESM: European Supermarket Magazine.