Agriculture News Digest
No. 189 - 13 August 2008Agriculture on Europa


Export refunds for fresh and frozen pig meat suspended


A proposal from the European Commission to set the export refunds for fresh and frozen pig meat at zero has been discussed by the Management Committee for the Common organisation of agricultural markets yesterday. The export refunds (EUR 31.1/100 kg for carcasses and cuts and EUR 19.4/100 kg for bellies) were re-introduced in November 2007, as a temporary measure to respond to the difficult market situation due to the combination of over-supply of EU production and high feed costs. Helped by the increased refunds and the introduction of private storage aid, the EU pig meat market started to recover since the beginning of this year: Pig carcass prices are now on average about 30% higher than in November 2007, EU exports increased considerably and feed costs are decreasing. Furthermore, EU pig meat production is forecast to decrease significantly in the second half of 2008. Given all those elements, the Commission decided to set the refunds for fresh and frozen carcasses, cuts and bellies back at zero, starting from today. The Commission will continue to monitor the market situation closely and, if appropriate, take further action.


Annual crop yield forecast: European Commission foresees above average cereals harvest for 2008

07/08/2008Also available in:
BG | DA | DE | ES | FR | IT | HU | NL | PL | RO

Favourable weather conditions and an increase in the planted area farmed should lead to a total cereals harvest close to 301 M tonnes for this year in the European Union, 43 M tonnes more than in 2007. This represents an increase of 16% on the 2007 harvest and 9% on the past five years' average production. This forecast, published today by the European Commission, is based on an updated analysis by the Commission's in-house scientific service, the Joint Research Centre (JRC), using an advanced crop yield forecasting system.

Detailed forecasts by crop and country


School Fruit Scheme: Which role for the European Union?

Commission invites submission of posters for forthcoming conference on School Fruit Scheme


On 8 July 2008, the European Commission presented its proposal for the introduction of an EU-wide School Fruit Scheme (SFS). In order to kick-start the linked networking activities, the Commission is now organising a major conference, bringing together experts from all Member states. This event will take place in Brussels in December 2008. As part of this conference there will be a poster exhibition of best practice models to provide SFS project promoters and stakeholders with examples for establishing or improving a School Fruit Scheme. Interested parties are now invited to submit models as posters for this exhibition. These posters must be designed to deliver 'operational' information in an easily understandable way. The posters will be exhibited during the conference and published on the Europa website.

Full details on how to submit best practice models


Agreement reached to liberalise trade in Agricultural and Fishery Products between the EU and Israel

01/08/2008Also available in:

Negotiators have reached a preliminary agreement to further liberalise trade in agricultural and processed agricultural products and fish and fishery products between the European Union and the State of Israel, following technical verification of the Common Understanding reached on 30 April 2008 in Bet-Dagan (Israel) on bilateral tariff concessions. This will form the basis of a future agreement, subject to completion of both sides' internal procedures. The new trade concessions represent a major step forward in the integration of the EU and Israeli markets.


Vacancy for Deputy Director at the International Olive Council


As the intergovernmental organisation in charge of administering the 2005 International Agreement on Olive Oil and Table Olives, the International Olive Council (IOC) is a unique multilateral organisation working for world olive farming. The European Community is a member of the IOC, where it represents 27 Member States and makes a substantial contribution to its operational budgets. A vacancy has now arisen for the post of Deputy Director responsible for administration and financial affairs, studies and evaluations, until November 2010, subsequently to be appointed Executive Director until 2014. The post is based in Madrid in the IOC Executive Secretariat, whose job it is to help the Council of Members and its Committees carry through the duties they are assigned under the International Agreement. EU citizens are invited to find out more from the Vacancy Notice and application details published today.


Reform of the wine sector

Wine reform enters into force on 1 August 2008


Today marks the entry into force of the wide-ranging reform of the Common Market Organisation for wine on which agriculture ministers reached agreement in December 2007. The changes will bring balance to the wine market, phase out wasteful and expensive market intervention measures and allow the budget to be used for more positive, proactive measures which will boost the competitiveness of European wines. The reform provides for a fast restructuring of the wine sector in that it includes a voluntary, three-year grubbing-up scheme to provide an alternative for uncompetitive producers and to remove surplus and uncompetitive wine from the market. Subsidies for crisis distillation and potable alcohol distillation will be phased out and the money, allocated in national envelopes, can be used for measures like wine promotion on third country markets, innovation, restructuring and modernisation of vineyards and cellars. The reform will ensure environmental protection in wine-growing regions, safeguard traditional and well-established quality policies and simplify labelling rules, for the benefit of producers and consumers alike. The very restrictive planting rights system will also be abolished at EU level from 1 January 2016 onwards. Most of the measures in the reform package come into force on 1 August 2008. Those relating to labelling, wine-making practices and Geographical Indications enter into force on 1 August 2009.


Organic farming

Organic Farming: European Commission launches new promotional campaign for organic food and farming

25/07/2008 Also available in:
DE | FR | NL

The European Commission will launch the European Union's new Organic Farming Campaign today at the Foire de Libramont agricultural fair in Belgium. Under the campaign slogan: "Organic farming. Good for nature, good for you", the promotional campaign aims to inform consumers about the meaning and benefits of organic farming and food production. The campaign will focus on increasing consumer awareness and recognition of organic products, and especially on young people and children to carry the organic idea into the future.


Promotional measures

EUR 45.7 million EU support for the promotion of agricultural products

24/07/2008 Also available in:

The European Commission has approved 31 programmes in 16 Member States (Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Estonia, France, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Austria, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia, Slovakia, Sweden and the United Kingdom) to provide information on and to promote agricultural products in the European Union. The total budget of the programmes running between one and three years is EUR 92.4 million, of which the EU will contribute half. The selected programmes cover organic products, agricultural quality products (PDO, PGI, TSG), dairy products, meat, wine, fruit and vegetables, oil, plants and flowers and products from the Outermost Regions.


Repeal of fruit and vegetable marketing standards moves a step closer


European Union Member States yesterday held a preliminary vote on Commission proposals to repeal specific marketing standards for 26 types of fruit and vegetables. While not binding, the vote gives a strong indication that these standards will be repealed when the formal vote is taken later in the year. The Member States did not reach a qualified majority either for or against the proposal. If, after allowing time for appropriate scrutiny by our trading partners, this vote were repeated later in the year, the rules would be repealed under the Commission's responsibility. The Commission's initiative to get rid of these standards followed a declaration made last year during the reform of the Common Market Organisation for fruit and vegetables. It is a major element in the Commission's ongoing efforts to streamline and simplify the rules and cut red tape. The proposal would also allow Member States to exempt fruit and vegetables from specific marketing standards if they are sold with a label "products intended for processing" or equivalent wording. Such products could be either misshapen or under-sized and could for example be used by consumers for cooking or salads etc. In this era of high prices and growing demand, it makes no sense to throw these products away or destroy them. "This is a concrete example of our drive to cut red tape and I will continue to push until it goes through," said Mariann Fischer Boel, Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development. "It shouldn't be the EU's job to regulate these things. It is far better to leave it to market operators. It will also cut down on unnecessary waste and benefit consumers." The proposals would maintain specific marketing standards for 10 products which account for 75% of the value of EU trade: apples, citrus fruit, kiwi fruit, lettuces, peaches and nectarines, pears, strawberries, sweet peppers, table grapes, tomatoes. Member States could exempt even these from the standards if they were sold in the shops with an appropriate label. They would abolish specific standards for 26 products: apricots, artichokes, asparagus, aubergines, avocadoes, beans, Brussels sprouts, carrots, cauliflowers, cherries, courgettes, cucumbers, cultivated mushrooms, garlic, hazelnuts in shell, headed cabbage, leeks, melons, onions, peas, plums, ribbed celery, spinach, walnuts in shell, water melons, witloof/chicory, while setting new general minimum standards for the marketing of fruit and vegetables. For practical reasons, all of these changes would be implemented from 1 July 2009.


Well-functioning RASFF processes more than 7,300 notifications in 2007

23/07/2008 Also available in:
DE | EL | FR

In 2007 there was a record number of notifications sent to the EU's Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF) - 7,354 altogether - indicating that this tool which ensures the safety of food for Europeans is functioning well. According to the "2007 RASFF annual report", last year 961 alerts and 2015 information notifications were received, giving rise to 4339 additional information notifications. This high number is mainly attributed to the increase of the additional information notifications – up by 13.5% compared to 2006. Most notifications in 2007 concerned official controls on the internal market (43%), while 42% concerned products from non-EU countries which were blocked at the border by EU control authorities when the risks were identified. Just as in 2006, the product category for which the most alerts were sent was fish products (21%).


Mitigating the effects of rising global food prices

Global Food Price Rise: Commission proposes special financing facility worth EUR 1 billion to help developing country farmers

18/07/2008 Also available in:
BG | CS | DA | DE | ET | EL | ES | FR | IT | LV | LT | HU | MT | NL | PL | PT | RO | SK | SL | FI | SV

The European Commission today proposed to establish a special "facility for rapid response to soaring food prices in developing countries". The fund would be worth EUR 1 billion and would operate for two years, 2008 and 2009. This money would be in addition to existing development funds and would be taken from unused money from the European Union's agricultural budget. It would be provided to developing countries which are most in need, based on a set of objective criteria. The facility would give priority to supply-side measures, improving access to farm inputs such as fertilisers and seed, possibly through credit, and to safety net measures aimed at improving productive capacity in agriculture. The support would be paid via international organisations, including regional organisations. The proposal falls under the co-decision procedure and the Commission hopes that Council and Parliament can reach agreement by November in order not to lose the unused 2008 money.


Mergers: Commission opens in-depth investigation into dairy products merger between Campina and Friesland

17/07/2008 Also available in:
DE | FR | NL

The European Commission has opened an in-depth investigation under the EU Merger Regulation into the planned merger between Campina and Friesland Foods, both of The Netherlands and both active in a range of dairy product markets such as milk, cheese and lactose. The Commission’s initial market investigation has found that the proposed transaction raises serious doubts as to its compatibility with the common market given that the two companies’ compete on the same dairy product markets. In addition, it is possible that the combination of the two companies' activities will lead to potential supply problems for competitors. The decision to open an in-depth inquiry does not prejudge the final result of the investigation. The Commission now has 90 working days (until 24 November 2008) to take a final decision on whether the concentration would significantly impede effective competition within the Single Market.


Control of agricultural spending: Commission launches procedure to reduce payments to Greece

16/08/2008 Also available in:
DE | EL | FR

The European Commission has launched the procedure aimed at reducing by 10 percent the payments to Greece for area-based agricultural and rural development aid measures because of continuing shortcomings in its national control system. The shortcomings concern principally the existing Greek Land Parcel Identification System (LPIS), which is ineffective due to outdated and inaccurate data. An accurate LPIS is, however, essential to ensure the correct management and control of area-based payments. In order to remedy the shortcomings of their existing LPIS, the Greek authorities committed themselves in the context of an Action Plan established in spring 2006 to set up a new operational LPIS by the end of 2008. A recent audit by the Directorate-General for Agriculture shows that this key element of the Greek Action Plan is presently not on schedule.



Commission launches consultation on requirements for a sustainability scheme for biomass for energy purposes

16/07/2008 Also available in:

The European Commission is inviting all stakeholders, including energy companies, project developers, equipment manufacturers, government services, agricultural and forest industry, environmental NGOs and all other interested stakeholders, including from outside the EU, to help identify the need to develop at EU level sustainability criteria for biomass for energy purposes.


State aid

Commission thumbs-down for proposed aid to Villasor sugar refinery in Sardinia

16/07/2008 Also available in:
DE | FR | IT

The European Commission today decided that the EUR 3.5 million in aid that Sardinia had wanted to grant Villasor sugar refinery is not compatible with the rules on State aid in agriculture. The aid had been intended as compensation to the refinery for its losses stemming from the 2001-02 drought on the island. The relevant State aid rules provide for compensation in case of drought only to primary producers and not to processing plants like the Villasor refinery.


Commissioner Fischer Boel's website

Commissioner Fischer Boel: Speeches and blog entries

New blog entry: "CAP reforms have transformed the EU's role in the WTO" (08/08/2008)

Statement to the press after the failure of the Doha Round talks [pdf] (29/07/2008)

Speaking points to the press (Press conference ahead of WTO talks, Brussels, 17/07/2008)



What's new on the Commission's "Agriculture and Rural Development" website?

"High prices on agricultural commodity markets: situation and prospects" [pdf]

"Agricultural commodity markets - Outlook 2008-2017" [pdf]

All new Organic Farming website


Quality products catch the eye: PDO, PGI or TSG

Registration as PDO, PGI or TSG

Applications for registration:

'Budapesti téliszalámi': PGI (OJ C 206 - 13/08/2008, p. 16)

'Wielkopolski ser smażony': PGI (OJ C 202 - 08/08/2008, p. 23)

'Gentse azalea': PGI (OJ C 198 - 05/08/2008, p. 13)

'Castagna di Vallerano': PDO (OJ C 190 - 29/07/2008, p. 7)

'Ovos Moles de Aveiro': PGI (OJ C 184 - 22/07/2008, p. 42)


'Acciughe sotto sale del Mar Ligure' (PGI), 'Brussels grondwitloof' (PGI), 'Œufs de Loué' (PGI) (OJ L 207 - 05/08/2008, p. 7)

'Czwórniak' (TSG), 'Dwójniak' (TSG), 'Półtorak' (TSG), 'Trójniak' (TSG) (OJ L 200 - 29/07/2008, p. 6)

'Afuega'l Pitu' (PDO), 'Mazapán de Toledo' (PGI), 'Agneau de Lozère' (PGI), 'Oignon doux des Cévennes' (PDO), 'Butelo de Vinhais' or 'Bucho de Vinhais' or 'Chouriço de Ossos de Vinhais' (PGI), 'Chouriça Doce de Vinhais' (PGI) (OJ L 198 - 26/07/2008, p. 28)

'Ail de la Drôme' (PGI), 'Všestarská cibule' (PDO), 'Slovenská bryndza' (PGI), 'Ajo Morado de Las Pedroñeras' (PGI), 'Gamoneu' or 'Gamonedo' (PDO), 'Alheira de Vinhais' (PGI), 'Presunto de Vinhais' or 'Presunto Bísaro de Vinhais' (PGI) (OJ L 189 - 17/07/2008, p. 19)

Arroz Carolino das Lezírias Ribatejanas (PGI) (OJ L 188 - 16/07/2008, p. 16)

Amendment of specifications:

Laguiole (PDO) (OJ L 209 - 06/08/2008, p. 3)

Radicchio Variegato di Castelfranco (PGI) (OJ L 209 - 06/08/2008, p. 5)

Radicchio Rosso di Treviso (PGI) (OJ L 209 - 06/08/2008, p. 7)

Carnalentejana: PDO (OJ L 200 - 29/07/2008, p. 8)


Calls for tender

Calls for tender

Contract notices are available in all official EU languages.

Important notice: This selection is not exhaustive. For a complete list of current calls for tenders please log on to Tenders electronic daily.

"Evaluation of the implementation of the farm advisory system": Contract notice and tender documents [Deadline for submission: 27/10/2008]

"Evaluation of the implementation of the European Union Forest Action Plan": Contract notice and tender documents [Deadline for submission: 07/10/2008]

"Evaluation of measures carried out for the outermost regions (POSEI) and the smaller islands of the Aegean Sea within the context of the common agricultural policy": Contract notice and tender documents [Deadline for submission: 01/10/2008]