European farming leaders have written to the incoming President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, to express their concerns over “agri-bashing” and EU farmers paying the price for other policy developments.

In a letter sent on Friday, November 8, the president of Copa, Joachim Rukwied, and the president of Cogeca, Thomas Magnusson, outlined their concerns to the commission president, which also included worries over reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).

In the document, the leaders congratulated von der Leyen on her election as president, but highlighted that farmers are facing an increasingly difficult situation at present.

“Farmers’ protests in many member states, most recently in France, Germany, the Netherlands and Poland, point out the blame that is unfairly pinned on farmers,” the letter notes.

In addition to this agri-bashing, EU farmers are paying the high price for other international policy developments, such as the Russian embargo, Brexit and the WTO [World Trade Organization] panel disputes.

“Let us assure you that we do not advocate any disruption to international trade.”

Continuing, the Copa and Cogeca leaders highlighted that, while they fully support the ongoing CAP reform process, “we fear that once again the outcome would be increased red tape and poorer economic results for the farmers”.

“This would have serious consequences for our future, bearing in mind the need to combat environmental challenges like climate change with dramatically reduced numbers of young farmers entering the sector,” the leaders warned.

“Nonetheless, we strongly believe that agriculture and forestry can provide long-term solutions, in particular through the common EU policies, such as the Green Deal Initiative.

The difficulty is to manage this in an increasingly open, global economy where the expectations of our European citizens and the international market reality do not always coincide.

“We need strong, adequately financed EU policies and public support to make this happen. Farmers will enable the EU to manage the transition to the circular and bio-based economy. In fact, strong agriculture would be a pre-condition to a strong Europe.”

Highlighting the “common interest” in succeeding with the introduction of an “ambitious political programme that would improve all of our lives”, the presidents concluded by stating:

“Copa and Cogeca remain committed to the European ideal and, in doing so, we will support you in your challenging role as the president of the commission.”