Agriculture ministers from across the EU have called on the European Commission come forward with more detail on derogations from environmental requirements in order to secure food production.

At a meeting of the Council of the EU yesterday (Monday, July 18), the ministers discussed the economic situation of the agricultural sector in the context of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The prospects for harvests this year, taking into account the implications of a drought in recent weeks, was a key point of concern.

The council noted that the shortage of raw materials and the high input prices are having a major impact on agricultural production and downstream manufacturing in member states.

For that reason, the ministers called on the commission to provide clarification on derogations and the national Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) Strategic Plans as soon as possible, in order to “provide certainty to farmers”.

The council also discussed the implementation of EU solidarity lanes and relevant ‘matchmaking’ platforms established to help transit grain out of Ukraine.

Ministers reiterated the need to continue monitoring individual sectors in the EU and to develop tools at global level to assess the way forward in the longer term.

On the implementation of the new CAP and the approval of the national strategic plans, the council stressed the importance of having the plans approved as soon as possible.

As well as that, ministers highlighted that a “balanced solution” was needed to meet environmental, climate and biodiversity objectives on one hand, and to ensure food security on the other.

Another item on yesterday’s agenda included the use of plant protection products, which saw ministers discuss a recent commission proposal to harmonise national policies on pesticide use by means of a regulation.

While ministers were favorable towards the idea of the sustainable use of pesticides, they expressed concern regarding a proposed reduction target of 50% in chemical pesticides, both at EU and national level.

They highlighted the need for viable sustainable alternatives to chemical pesticides before setting obligatory reduction targets; and the need to take into account the differences in geography, climate and ‘starting points’ in different member states.