The Commission’s €500m aid package revealed last week is a step in the right direction but it might be not enough to get farmers struggling with falling prices back on their feet, many MEPs, including Luke Ming Flanagan, told Commissioner Phil Hogan in a debate on Wednesday.
Crisis management instruments should be improved, and the position of farmers in the food supply chain strengthened, said MEPs. Some also ask the Commission to immediately increase intervention prices to tackle the current crisis.
Ming Flanagan said the aid package was akin to Roscommon having a one-point lead against Kilkenny in a hurling match. Ming also said it was worrying the Commissioner had said in July there was no crisis.
Commenting on the content of the aid package outlined by Commissioner Hogan and the outcome of the informal Agriculture Council on Monday, many MEPs called for new market measures to tackle price volatility and further support for farmers to find new foreign outlets.
Several MEPs blamed market-oriented policies for the current crisis and called for tools to manage supply, particularly when it comes to the milk sector, while others insisted on structural reforms that would simplify the Common Agricultural Policy and boost the competitiveness of EU farmers on the world market.
Some also called for €900m raised from former ‘super levy’ fines paid by farmers who exceeded their quotas under the quota scheme abolished in April 2015.
Ming also said that major multinational retailers should be controlled more, not producer groups.
Harkin Urges Farm Aid for Needy Irish Citizens
The €13.7m share of the emergency funding agreed for Ireland’s farmers would be irrelevant for the individual farmer but, as food aid, would be more valuable to needy Irish citizens, according to Independent MEP Marian Harkin.
“The battle at EU level to maintain a focus on the vital role of farming in ensuring a secure supply of quality food for EU citizens, and meeting necessary environmental targets involves emphasis on the public good dimension of the Common Agricultural Policy”, she said.