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EU Ag Sector Role in Economic Crisis Outlined at Major Conference

17 March 2014, at 11:15am

EU - The agriculture sector is key for helping the EU survive the economic crisis, speakers at a high-level European conference on the future Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) said in Seville.

The Conference "The new CAP: Future for Farmers, Future for Society, organised by the Spanish Farm Organisation Asaja and co-partnered by Copa-Cogeca was attended by over 300 people across Europe.

Speaking at the event, the Regional Vice-Minister for Agriculture of Andalusia said "Agriculture has played a positive role in the economic crisis, with agriculture growth rising by eight per cent last year in Andalusia and exports good".

The CAP played a crucial role in facilitating this.

But speakers warned that the new CAP will be more complicated and red tape will increase in the future and support less.

"In particular, the greening measures under reform will be costly and agriculture production will be endangered which is especially worrying with food demand set to rise by 60 per cent by 2050", Copa Vice-President Harry Sinclair warned.

He consequently outlined ways to enable farmers to have a more viable future through green growth, with a more efficient use of resources. This means the huge potential of agriculture must be exploited, he said.

He pointed out that more money is available for agriculture research under Horizon 2020. But we have to ensure that knowledge is transfered to farmers to encourage the uptake of innovative solutions. For the implementation of innovative ideas at farm level, investment and modernisation measures are needed, he insisted.

Mr Sinclair went on to highlighted the need to strengthen farmers position in the food chain to get more income from the market, since they currently only get a fraction of the price of a product.

This was also highlighted by the Spanish Secretary-General Ms Isabel Garcia Tejerina for Agriculture and Food who insisted that agri-cooperatives need to be encouraged to enable farmers to better market their produce and get a better income from the market. All elements of the CAP must be used to improve the competitivity of the agriculture sector , she said. Farmers themselves also need to be more entrepreneurial and improve their positioning on the market.

Wrapping up, Asaja Sevilla President Mr Riccardo Serra Arias highlighted the importance of communicating to consumers the benefits of the CAP and of the work farmers do. He pointed out the success of this communication campaign The new CAP: Future for farmers, Future for society which included city farm events in Spain and Portugal, attracting over 300,000 visitors. After this conference, a final event will be held in Brussels in European Parliament on 24th March exhibiting photos which portray positive images of agriculture and show the crucial role farmers play in providing quality, healthy food and environmental services, maintaining rural areas, for society, thanks to the CAP.

A declaration was presented at the end of the conference outlining key ways to ensure a viable sector for farmers and society in the future.

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