At the meeting, presided over by Irish Agricultural Minister, Simon Coveney, Austria pointed out that under-supply of protein feed and the high demand for imports were long-standing issues in the EU, where the rate of self-sufficiency amounted only to about 33 per cent.
The Austrian delegation also referred to a joint project – the Danube Soya Initiative – which aimed to develop high-quality soy production and processing system in Europe.
The suggestion to develop a protein supply system specific to the EU got some support. Several delegations considered the fact that this would help decrease dependence on protein feed imports. However, others pointed out the need for compliance with WTO regulations.
Delegations further considered that the positive environmental and climatic impacts of the cultivation of legumes and protein crops should be taken into account in the framework of the CAP reform by allowing the relevant areas planted with legumes and protein crops to qualify for the greening payment as part of ecological focus areas (EFAs).
Mislabelling of processed beef products
At the request of the Presidency, the Commission gave an overview of the current situation regarding food products containing horsemeat mislabelled as beef, an incident which began in January.
The testing programme proposed by the Commission was welcomed by several member states. Subsequently, it was endorsed by all member states and adopted as a recommendation.
The tests, which already have been started by many member states, provides an idea of the seriousness of the situation. On this basis, some delegations called for a report on labelling of origin of meat. They asked for the publication to be scheduled for December this year.
Several delegations considered that such mandatory labelling of origin could contribute positively to the re-establishment of consumer confidence.
Others, however, were not so easily convinced that more legislation would prevent such cases of fraud.
The conditions under which the tests should be carried out were defined more precisely at a meeting of the Standing committee on the food chain and animal health (SCOFCAH) on 15 February 2013 where they were unanimously endorsed.