Commission acts for global food security and to support EU farmers and consumers – World

Today, the European Commission presented a series of short and medium-term actions aimed at strengthening global food security and supporting EU farmers and consumers in the face of rising food and input costs, such as energy and fertilizer. Soaring global commodity prices, further accelerated by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, again underline the need for EU agriculture and food supply chains to become more resilient and sustainable, in accordance with From farm to fork strategy.

The Commission is committed to taking all necessary measures to ensure that the EU, as a net food exporter and leading agri-food producer, contributes to global food security, in particular in Ukraine, North Africa and in the Middle East, which is largely dependent on cereal imports, as well as in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. The EU is one of the main providers of humanitarian and development aid in the area of ​​food and food systems.

Food availability is currently not at stake in the EU, since the continent is largely self-sufficient in many agricultural products. However, our agricultural sector is a net importer of specific products, for example food proteins. This vulnerability, combined with high input costs, such as fertilizers and fossil fuels, poses production challenges for farmers and risks driving up food prices.

The Commission’s Executive Vice President, Valdis Dombrovskis, said: “Russia’s war against Ukraine has created a myriad of problems, especially with regard to global food security. When it comes to food, now is the time for Europe to show its solidarity: to help Ukraine, its people and farmers, as well as vulnerable food-importing countries around the world facing soaring food prices and potential shortages. We will continue to provide humanitarian assistance to alleviate the suffering of Ukrainians by ensuring their access to basic goods and services, including food. At the same time, we must avoid any export restrictions to limit food prices. Although the EU itself does not face a food security risk, we still need to address food accessibility issues and take action to make our agriculture and food supply chains more resilient and sustainable. to deal with future crises.

Agriculture Commissioner Janusz Wojciechowski said: “We will not leave Ukraine alone in the face of Russian aggression. Our first priority is to ensure that Ukrainians have enough food, fuel and water. We will also help them continue to plant and grow much-needed grains and oilseeds for the world and facilitate their exports. The EU is an agricultural superpower and we will ensure that our farmers have the full support of the Commission to meet global food needs. We will achieve this while striving to make our food supply chains more sustainable and resilient to future crises.”*

Strengthen global food security

Food security in war-torn Ukraine is of grave concern, particularly in besieged cities, with Russia apparently deliberately targeting and destroying food storage locations.

The Commission is supporting Ukraine in the development and implementation of a short- to medium-term food security strategy aimed at ensuring that inputs reach farms as far as possible, and that transport and storage are maintained to enable Ukraine to feed its citizens and eventually regain its export markets.

A €330 million EU emergency aid program for Ukraine will help ensure access to basic goods and services, as well as protection for the population. The program aims to help alleviate the suffering of Ukrainians by ensuring access to basic goods and services as well as their protection. Another important objective will be to rebuild small-scale civil infrastructure, strategic planning as well as ensuring energy security.

The Commission will ensure regular monitoring and analysis of food prices and food insecurity and will continue its engagement in international and multilateral bodies (FAO, WTO, G7, G20) to coordinate policies. In addition, the EU has stepped up humanitarian aid to regions and population groups most affected by food insecurity.

In the international cooperation program 2021-2027, the EU will work to develop the sustainability of food systems with around 70 partner countries. Moreover, at Nutrition for Growth Summit in Tokyo in December 2021, the EU and its Member States pledged to continue the fight against malnutrition by pledging a substantial amount of €4.3 billion, including at least €2.5 billion from the EU. EU for international cooperation with a nutritional objective during the period 2021-2024.

Furthermore, the EU will continue to advocate vigorously to avoid export restrictions and food export bans and for a well-functioning single market.

This deep crisis confirms that we must globally accelerate the transition of the food system towards sustainability and resilience to better prepare for future crises. As a follow-up to the 2021 UN Food Systems Summit, the Commission will engage in eight coalitions all of which aim at food system transformation, resilience and sustainable productivity growth.

Supporting EU farmers and consumers

In order to improve the affordability of foodstuffs, Member States may also apply reduced rates of value added tax and encourage economic operators to contain retail prices. Member States can also tap into EU funds such as the Fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived (FEAD), which supports EU countries’ actions to provide basic food and/or material aid to the most vulnerable.

The new set up European Food Security Crisis Preparedness and Response Mechanism(EFSCM), bringing together European and national administrations and private actors along the supply chain, will carry out an in-depth mapping of the risks and vulnerabilities of the EU food supply chain, followed by recommendations and appropriate mitigation measures.

To fulfill its role as a global food supplier that remains fully committed to the ecological transition, the EU agricultural sector needs our full support. To this end, the Commission has today adopted the following measures:

  • A support envelope of 500 million euros, including using the crisis reserve, to support the producers most affected by the serious consequences of the war in Ukraine. On this basis, Member States could provide additional financial support to farmers to contribute to global food security or address market disruptions due to rising input costs or trade restrictions. Support for farmers engaged in sustainable practices must be prioritized, while ensuring that measures target the sectors and farmers hardest hit by the crisis.

  • More advances on direct payments, as well as area- and animal-related rural development measures, to farmers from 16 October 2022.

  • Market safety net measures to support the pigmeat market given the particularly difficult situation in the sector.

  • An exceptional and temporary derogation to allow the production of any crop for food and feed purposes on set-aside land, while maintaining the full level of greening payment for farmers. This will increase the production capacity of the EU despite the limited availability of fertile land.

  • Temporary flexibilities specific to existing import requirements for animal feed will help ease pressure on the animal feed market.

The Commission has proposed a new autonomous temporary crisis framework which also covers farmers, fertilizer producers and the fishing sector. This allows state aid to be granted to farmers affected by significant increases in input costs. Fertilizer prices and supplies to farmers will be monitored to ensure EU crop prospects are not compromised.

The Commission also proposes that Member States report monthly data on private stocks of essential food and feed products in order to have an accurate and timely overview of their availability.

Strengthen the resilience and sustainability of our food systems

Food sustainability is an integral part of food security. By implementing the necessary transitions set out in the Farm to Fork and Biodiversity Strategies, the Commission will ensure that the overall productivity of EU agriculture is not compromised. This means greater use of innovation to contribute to sustainable yield increases, such as precision farming, new genomic techniques, improved nutrient management, integrated pest management, alternative biological to chemical pesticides, etc.

Strengthening resilience, by reducing the dependence of European agriculture on energy, energy-intensive imports and animal feed imports is more necessary than ever. Resilience requires diversified import sources and outlets through a vigorous multilateral and bilateral trade policy. Horizon Europe will invest in research and innovation to replace the use of synthetic fertilisers. Greater efficiency in the use of nitrogen, the switch to green ammonia for fertilizers and the recovery of biomass are among the proposals presented by the Commission. The Commission invites Member States to use all the instruments available in their CAP strategic plans for the period 2023-2027 in this regard. This concerns, for example, the use of risk management tools, the development of precision agriculture or coupled support to boost protein crops.

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