EU farming unions call for livestock to be included in upcoming agriculture promotion policy

Excluding livestock products from the EU Promotion Policy would be both an environmental and economic aberration, says Copa and Cogeca.
calendar icon 22 June 2021
clock icon 3 minute read

MEP Elsi Katainen (Renew) hosted an Parliamentary Intergroup event "Biodiversity, Climate Change, Sustainable Development" on the future of the EU promotion policy. The debate focused on the promotion of livestock products. An opportunity to underline a clear fact: it would not make sense both from a sustainability and a competitiveness point of view to exclude the livestock sector from the promotion policy.

Following the opening by the European Commission regarding a public consultation of the revision of the EU promotion policy, the controversies and outrageous statements have multiplied. Yet the subject of agricultural promotion policy is a complex one that deserves much more. The debate in the EU Parliament proved it.

The organizer of the event MEP Elsi Katainen felt that, “We have to secure the key target of the EU promotion policy - which is supporting the competitiveness and export of European food products. Instead of excluding certain products from the promotion policy, we should use it as a tool to boost sustainable production from vegetables to livestock. The key is to make the promotion policy more attractive and accessible to small and medium sized players, and the momentum for this is now”.

The conference featured many examples of successful promotion programmes for livestock products showing their capacities to contribute to both enhancing sustainability and the competitiveness of the EU agricultural products. Erik Kam from the Danish Agriculture Council said, "Promotion is extremely important in a globalized economy in our competition with Brazil, US and Canada bring in third country markets." Echoing the argument, Birthe Steenberg, Secretary General of AVEC, mentioned that, "Promotion is essential because the EU livestock is competing with cheaper products from third countries with standards that are not as high as EU ones. A tendency that will inevitably be reinforced with the implementation of the Green Deal".

Academic Alice Stanton, Professor of Cardiovascular Pharmacology at the Royal College of Surgeons (IE), commented on DG SANTE’s health concerns regarding the promotion of the consumption of red meat. She mentioned that, "Red meat and dairy are nutrient-rich foods. If they are considerably reduced or indeed excluded from our diet, this will result in greater disease burdens both in Europe and globally. In particular, women, children and the elderly will be adversely impacted because of increased iron deficiency anaemia, impaired childhood growth and cognition, osteoporosis and sarcopenia."

Paolo Patruno, Deputy Secretary General of CLITRAVI, insisted on the risk of a sustainability leakage that could be associated with the exclusion of the livestock sector from the promotion policy, “There are no sustainable or unsustainable sectors, but sustainable and unsustainable business practices. A review of the promotion policy on products and/or sectors rather than on production methods would be ideological and irrational”.

Finally, Declan Coppinger representing UECBV emphasized the role the promotion policy must play in the economic recovery and called for a measured, science-based approach in the upcoming reform, “Red meats have a role to play in a sustainable, balanced diet and the livestock sector must continue to be supported as guardians of the environment”.

We are now at a crucial time where the EU will have to decide if it wants to support the most sustainable agri-system in the world and its rich culinary heritage or if it prefers to surrender to unfounded ideological beliefs and lower quality products from third countries.

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