EU rapeseed production is expected to fall by as much as 7% this year, compared to 2014, according to figures released by Copa-Cogeca.

This development is being attributed to the introduction of the neonicotinoid seed treatment ban.

“The situation is very serious, with declines of up to 1 mt in rapeseed production estimated in Germany alone,” said Arnaud Rousseau, Chairman of the Copa-Cogeca oilseeds working party.

“Some areas have been particularly badly hit, like in parts of the UK where producers lost 40% of their production. What makes it worse is that there are no alternative tools for crop protection for the spring varieties and crops are being destroyed by flea beetle attacks.

“Analysis of the total extent of the insect damage is also still not complete and no socio-economic impact assessment has yet been carried out.

“We, therefore. call on the EU Commission to do a socio-economic impact assessment to look at the extent of the damage. We will also hold a conference in May to assess the impact and look for alternatives even though none exist.

The Copa-Cogeca figures indicate that EU oilseed production is expected to drop by 4.4% on average this year, compared to last year, to reach 32.85 mt.

“The figures must however be treated with caution as there are still concerns about the potential yield as the Spring planting season has not yet started”, said Rousseau.

“Oilseeds producers have also adapted their rotation system as much as they can in response to the new rules, which may explain the 1.7% increase in the area for sunflower sowings to 4.38 mha and in other protein crops”, he added.

“Rape producers have serious concerns about the trialogue talks between the EU Commission, Council and Parliament on cuts in the targets to promote the use of conventional biofuels in future EU biofuel policy.

“We do not believe the cuts are justified since the EU was again last year a net exporter of rapeseed grain and therefore there is no conflict with food supplies. This new reality is in contradiction with the ILUC factor concept that would penalise European farmers that crop the land in an environmental friendly way.”