SPEECH BY COMMISSION HOGAN ON SOLIDARITY PACKAGE FOR FARMERS – 16 SEPTEMBER

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SPEECH BY COMMISSION HOGAN ON SOLIDARITY PACKAGE FOR FARMERS - 16 SEPTEMBER
16 Sep 2015

SPEECH BY COMMISSION HOGAN ON SOLIDARITY PACKAGE FOR FARMERS – 16 SEPTEMBER

Brussels Daily

Speech by Commissioner Hogan to European Parliament Mini-Plenary Session in Brussels

 

Mr/Madame President, honourable members, I am very happy to be here this

evening with the President of the Agriculture Council of Ministers, Fernand

Etgen, and to outline the Commission’s comprehensive response to the

difficulties currently facing European farmers.

As the public representatives of the European Union’s 507 million citizens, you

are only too well aware of the challenges facing not alone farmers, but the

wider challenges facing the Union today.

Just last week, President Juncker made his State of the Union address to this

House and, inevitably, much of that address was focused on the refugee crisis.

To deal with this crisis, the President said that we “require a strong effort for

European solidarity.” The European Union has shown solidarity in its response

to many crises and our response to the situation in the agricultural markets is a

demonstration of solidarity with European farmers and particularly with those

most affected by market developments over the past year.

The European Commission has proposed a comprehensive support package for

all 28 Member States, worth €500 million, described by President Juncker as “a

€500 solidarity package for farmers.” The Commission’s response reflects our

commitment to support European farmers and European food production.

I welcome the support for the package shown by the Council yesterday and I

hope that I can count on similar support from this House this evening.
In response to some concerns about the source of the funding for the package,

I am happy to confirm that the money comes from within the existing margins

of the agriculture budget and will not require recourse to the Crisis Reserve.

For those who question the adequacy of this package as an effective response,

I would say there are always some for whom any amount is never enough,

whether that is €500 million or €1 billion. Now that we have this announced

this package, my focus is on delivery. This is about what the Commission can

do for farmers and getting that done quickly, particularly to address the

immediate cashflow challenges.

The Commission’s response must also be seen against the other budgetary

pressures, particularly arising from the refugee crisis. Indeed, an element of

the Commission’s package is to make available €30 million to ensure that EU

milk will be available for the nutritional needs of refugees.

We have been dealing with the effects of the Russian ban for over a year now

which it is acknowledged has had repercussions on the farming sector. In

addition to the continuing impact of that ban, we also have

• weakening demand in a number of key existing and prospective markets,

notably China;

• a global oversupply of milk, to which all producing regions are

contributing; and

• the impact of drought in certain Member States.

These issues have had a wide impact on farmers, particularly for dairy

production which takes place on some 700 000 farms right across the Union.
The Commission’s package is an appropriate mix to meet the challenges being

faced by different sectors and farmers in Member States. Rather than focusing

on individual measures, I urge you to look at this package as a whole.

It is a package that

• is designed to address the cash-flow difficulties faced by farmers, on the

one hand through €420 million in direct targeted aid for all 28 Member

States, and on the other by allowing Member States to advance 70 per

cent of direct payments and 85 per cent of area-based rural

development payments from 16 October without the need for on-the-

spot checks;

• will stablise the market, through a new and very generously resourced

private storage scheme for skimmed milk powder and cheese as well as a

new private storage scheme for pigmeat. Additional funding will also be

provided for the promotion of dairy products and pigmeat;

• will reinforce the work on improvements for better outcomes on all

layers of the food supply chain – production, processing and retail – by

promoting full use of the milk package, e.g. through exchange of best

practices, including on unfair trading practices, as well as by thoroughly

reporting on all aspects of the milk package already in 2016 and through

a new dedicated High-Level Group to look at specific issues such as risk

hedging instruments for agricultural products and credit for farmers; and

• will respond to societal challenges through the School Milk Scheme and

funding for refugees.

These measures are taken in addition to €820 million being allocated in

Voluntary Coupled Support for the dairy sector [in 17 MS].
I am confident the necessary resources to cover all measures are available to

ensure that it is an effective response which will deliver on its objectives.

The allocation of €420 million in MS envelopes has generated some inevitable

reaction, but I want to emphasise that the distribution key used ensures that

the envelopes are fair and, in a spirit of solidarity, provide a top-up for those

MS most affected by the negative circumstances, including the fall in pigmeat

prices, the summer drought and the ongoing impact of the Russian ban.

Last week, President said that without farmers, Europe would not survive and

he gave a commitment that we would not leave farmers out in the cold. The

Commission’s package delivers on that commitment. It is a robust and decisive

response.

Before concluding, I want to emphasise the imperative for rapid action and

appeal for the assistance of the European Parliament in ensuring that this

package is delivered quickly for the benefit of our farmers. The Commission is

already publishing the draft legal instruments (delegated and implementing

acts) and I encourage you to support these measures, particularly in relation to

targeted aid, to ensure that the available funding can be provided quickly to

those who need it, our farmers. I do not believe that farmers should be left

waiting for the urgent help that they need and which we can supply today. I ask

you to support me in this approach.

Ends.

Wednesday 16 September

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