Copa-Cogeca has warned of the drastic situation that is facing EU livestock producers, squeezed by high production costs and low prices, and urged the EU Commission to ensure the EU food chain works better.

Copa-Cogeca argues that the market is becoming increasingly volatile and producers’ input costs – fertilizers, fuel and feed – have risen sharply recently, reaching untenable levels. This jeopardises their competitiveness and economic viability.

Moreover, imports from non-EU countries are increasing and they do not face the same production costs or meet the EU’s high food safety, welfare and environmental standards. For example, production costs in the beef sector in Brazil (81 euros/100 kg liveweight) are nearly one third of the level as those found in Italy (233 euros/100 kg liveweight). In France, they reach 221 euros/100 kg liveweight, compared to just 73 euros/100 kg liveweight in Argentina. They have also climbed sharply in Bulgaria recently, causing Bulgarian farmers to protest angrily this week. The price the producer receives for his produce has meanwhile not risen by the same amount, sometimes not even covering production costs. This situation is unacceptable.

Copa-Cogeca Secretary-General Pekka Pesonen said “Unless this trend is reversed, there could be major consequences for EU agricultural productivity in the future and ultimately for EU food security. The Commission must consequently ensure that farmers get a better return from the market. More transparency is needed and there needs to be a closer look at the distribution of prices and margins along the food chain. European competition rules also need to be adjusted to enable producer organisations, such as cooperatives, to grow in size and scale, contributing to a better balanced food chain”.