Agriculture News Digest
No. 191 - 23 October 2008Agriculture on Europa


European School Milk Scheme

Commission launches EU school milk campaign

17/10/2008Also available in:
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Today in Cyprus, European Commissioner for Agriculture, Mariann Fischer Boel, will launch an EU-wide campaign to promote the relaunched School Milk Programme. Under the slogan "Milk - Drink it up", the information campaign aims to raise awareness of the benefits of milk consumption and the availability of EU funds to schools. During a day dedicated to balanced diet and good eating habits organised by pupils of Panagia Triherousa school in Limassol, Commissioner Fischer Boel, Commissioner for Health, Androulla Vassiliou, and Dr Michalis Polynikis, Minister for Agriculture of Cyprus, will kick off a series of entertaining and educative events. As part of this campaign, young people will be invited to take part in a photo competition on the theme "Milk power".


EU to restore import customs duties on cereals

17/10/2008 Also available in:

Mariann Fischer Boel, Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, announced that customs duties on cereals imports will be reintroduced as a reaction to the price decrease on the cereals market. A draft Regulation was put to the Management Committee for the Common Organisation of Agricultural Markets yesterday. It has now to be formally adopted by the Commission and will enter into force on the third day following publication in the Official Journal of the European Union. There are no export refunds on cereals exports.


EU agricultural product quality policy

New database on food quality product names


The Commission today launched a new database of protected quality names for agricultural products and foodstuffs. By using the 'Database Of Origin and Registration' (DOOR), researchers, producers, agricultural journalists and interested citizens now have easy access to full information on the registered names: PDOs, PGIs and TSGs. Commenting on the new database, Marianne Fischer Boel, Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, said: "This important project illustrates the Commission's commitment to the agricultural quality schemes. DOOR will cut the time taken for examination and greatly facilitate the work of all those seeking data and information on our registered quality names."

DOOR comprises data on 832 registered names: PDOs (Protected Designations of Origin), and PGIs (Protected Geographical Indications), and TSGs (Traditional Specialities Guaranteed), as well as 323 applied-for names. When complete, DOOR will consist of three modules: an online application system, a workflow management system within the Commission, and the on-line database available today.

DOOR Database of Origin and Registration

More on PDOs, PGIs and TSGs


Rural Development policy 2007-2013

European Network for Rural Development goes live

16/10/2008 Also available in:
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The European Commission will tomorrow launch the European Network for Rural Development at a high-profile conference on rural development in Cyprus. The Network will bring together policy-makers, administrators, academics and other key actors in the area of rural development from across the European Union, thus making it easier for them to share ideas, information and experience. This will help keep the European Union's rural development policy fit for the demands of the 21st century.

Proceedings of the conference


EU agricultural product quality policy

Getting the most out of EU quality food and drink: Commission launches a consultation on agricultural product quality

15/10/2008 Also available in:
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The European Commission today adopted a Green Paper to open the debate on how to help European farmers make the most of the quality of the food and drinks they produce. As globalisation spreads, pressure increases from low cost products from overseas and consumer demands evolve, Europe's most potent weapon is 'quality'. The Green Paper looks at the range of standards, quality and certification programmes and labelling schemes currently operating in the EU (including geographical indications, organic farming, and private and regional food quality certification schemes) and asks what could be done better to exploit the strengths of EU farming and better inform consumers about the products on offer. The paper asks stakeholders to give their views on how effective these measures are in delivering guarantees and communicating the qualities of the products, and to suggest improvements. The consultation period will run until the end of 2008. A Communication will be prepared next year based on the results, which could lead to legislative proposals at a later stage.

Take part in the consultation


Milk quotas: Levies for exceeding milk quota total EUR 340 million

13/10/2008 Also available in:
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Certain Member States face levies totalling just over EUR 340 million for exceeding their milk quotas during the 2007/2008 marketing year, according to a provisional calculation by the European Commission, based on Member States' annual declarations. Last year the total levy amounted to EUR 221 million. Seven Member States (Austria, Cyprus, Ireland, Italy, Germany, Luxembourg, and Netherlands) exceeded their delivery quotas. Altogether these account for an overrun of 1,217,000 tonnes, resulting in a levy of EUR 338.7 million. Some 47% of the total is due to excess deliveries in Italy and 30% of the levy is due from Germany. Italy exceeded its delivery quota by 5.7%, Cyprus exceeded by 3.9% and Austria by 3.2%. As for direct sales to consumers, Cyprus, Luxembourg and the Netherlands reported overruns, totalling 4,673 tonnes resulting in a levy for direct sales of EUR 1.3 million, of which 92% is due from the Netherlands.


Commission submitted updated measures on China milk products to the Member States


Last Friday, the European Commission discussed how to update the existing measures to respond to the melamine contaminated milk from China with the Member States. The set of reinforced measures discussed and agreed by Member States, replace the interim measures provisionally adopted by the Commission on 26 September last (Decision 2008/757/EC). The new measures update and supplement the measures adopted two weeks ago, which consisted of a ban on imports of products intended for the particular nutritional uses of infants or young children and of systematic checks on other composite products containing milk prior to import into the Community. Member States may also perform random checks on other products which, because of their high protein content, could have been subject to adulteration practices similar to those applied to the milk products, although there is at present no evidence that this has been the case. Whilst controls were, pursuant to Decision 2008/757/EC, limited to products containing at least 15% of milk products, Member States have been reporting significant difficulties in establishing the exact milk product content of a number of composite products targeted by the interim measures. The new measures streamline and simplify control tasks imposed on Member States by the interim measures adopted on 26 September. On the one hand such controls have to be carried out on a limited number of control points specifically designated for that purpose by the Member States. On the other hand, Member States will not have to establish the exact amount of milk product content on imported products in order to decide whether analytical tests are required, as the new measures will require systematic checks on all milk containing products irrespective of the exact amount of such content. The measures shall be regularly reassessed in the light of the results of the controls carried out by the Member States.

Commission Decision of 14 October 2008 imposing special conditions governing the import of products containing milk or milk products originating in or consigned from China, and repealing Commission Decision 2008/757/EC [pdf]


Avian Influenza: Highly pathogenic H5N1 virus confirmed in Saxony


The European Commission adopted today a decision confirming the risk areas set up by the German authorities in relation to an outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza on a poultry farm in the commune of Markersdorf, in Saxony, close to the Polish border. The German authorities informed the Commission yesterday about a suspected outbreak of highly pathogenic avian flu. Germany's national laboratory confirmed today that the outbreak concerns the highly pathogenic H5N1 strain of avian influenza. The German authorities applied immediately the necessary control measures laid down in EU legislation and set up risk areas around the outbreak. The situation will be reviewed at the next Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health (SCoFCAH) on 15 October. Last night, the German authorities culled all poultry on the farm, i.e. 800 geese, 550 ducks, 60 chicken and 24 turkeys. The measures laid down in the Avian Influenza Directive 2005/94/EC and the additional measures for the H5N1 virus have been applied. They entail the establishment of a protection zone of 3 km radius and a surveillance zone of 10 km around the infected holding. The area covered by the protection zone and the surveillance zone is classified as a high risk area (area A), which is surrounded by a low risk area (area B) acting as a buffer zone to the disease-free parts of the country. Strict movement controls are in place. Poultry must be kept indoors, gatherings of poultry and other birds are banned, and on-farm bio security measures are strengthened. Today's Commission decision confirms the areas A and B set up in Germany. This is the first outbreak of the highly avian influenza H5N1 in a poultry holding in the EU in 2008. The last outbreak in a poultry farm caused by this virus was confirmed on 25 December 2007 in Germany in the land of Brandenburg. In wild birds the last case was detected at the end of February 2008 in the UK.


Who gets EU cash? New website gives details of beneficiaries

02/10/2008 Also available in:

Today's launch of the "Financial Transparency system" website and search engine will allow, for the first time ever, free access to details of who receives EU funds managed directly by the Commission and its executive agencies. Based on accounting data, it provides a consolidated view of the previous financial year and contains approximately 28,000 entries on Commission-run programmes in policy areas like research, education and culture, energy and transport and certain aspects of aid to third countries. This new search engine will allow users to analyse and compare information on beneficiaries and policy areas more easily. It is one of the building blocks in the Commission's wider European Transparency Initiative (ETI).

In a parallel development, all Member States should put in place by 30 September 2008 a website with information on payments from the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) made between 1 January and 15 October 2007. Each website shall for all beneficiaries provide details such as the name of the beneficiary, the municipality of residence and the total amount of public funding received (Community and national). The Commission has set up a web-portal which provides access to the national websites. By 30 April 2009, Member States must publish details of the recipients of all other agricultural payments.

Member State websites providing information on beneficiaries of CAP payments (shared management)


Commission transmits to Council proposal to authorise a GM soybean


The Commission will transmit to the Council a proposal to authorise a genetically modified (GM) soybean after Member States did not endorse it today during a meeting of the Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health (SCoFCAH). The Commission presented today to SCoFCAH the proposal for the authorisation of GM soybean MON89788, also known as "RoundupReady2" soybean, for import and processing and food and feed uses. The authorisation of this GM soybean is important as it will help preventing shortages in supply of the EU livestock industry with soybean imports from third countries. Member States returned no definitive opinion, either for or against the proposal, during the SCoFCAH meeting. The Commission tabled the proposal following an application submitted by the American food biotechnology company Monsanto and a favourable scientific assessment from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), which addressed all safety concerns. EFSA concluded that there is no risk to human or animal health or to the environment. As a result of today's inconclusive vote, the Commission will now transmit the dossier to the Council for a decision. If the Council does not reach a position within three months, the proposal will be sent back to the Commission for final adoption.


Commissioner Fischer Boel's website

Commissioner Fischer Boel: Speeches and blog entries

"Prospects for rural development policy" (Conference organised by the Commission "Europe's rural areas in action: facing the challenges of tomorrow", Limassol, Cyprus, 16/10/2008)

"Getting the most out of EU quality food and drink" (Speaking points at Press conference, Brussels, 15/10/2008)

"Keeping our head in uncertain times" [pdf] (Club Demeter, Brussels, 14/10/2008)

"Mountain areas in European Union policies" (6th European Mountain Convention, Brig, Switzerland, 09/10/2008)

Blog entry: "No return to the Age of Ideology" (07/10/2008)

"Observations on a CAP for the future" (Congress of European Farmers 2008 organised by COPA/COGECA, Brussels, 30/09/2008)

"The CAP Health Check: an opportunity for regions" (Seminar by ARF, Association des Régions de France, Clermont-Ferrand, 25/09/2008)

"Method and sense: asking questions about a CAP for after 2013" (Informal Agriculture Council, Annecy, 23/09/2008)

"Agriculture in the future: a challenge for European young farmers" (CEJA [European Council of Young Farmers] seminar, Annecy, 21/09/2008)



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

"The EU Forest Action Plan 2007-2011" [pdf, also available in: DE | FR ]

Green Paper on agricultural product quality: product standards, farming requirements and quality schemes

MAP 02/08: "The 2008 Outlook for World Agricultural Commodity Markets"

"Other gainful activities: pluriactivity and farm diversification in EU-27": Text [pdf] - Slide show [pdf]

"The importance and contribution of the agri-food sector to the sustainable development of rural areas" [pdf]


EU agricultural product quality policy: PDO, PGI or TSG

Registration as PDO, PGI or TSG

Applications for registration:

'Kiwi de l'Adour': PGI (OJ C 263 - 16/10/2008, p. 5)

'Petit Épeautre de Haute Provence': PGI (OJ C 261 - 14/10/2008, p. 11)

'Olej rydzowy': TSG (OJ C 244 - 25/09/2008, p. 27)

'Znojemské pivo': PGI (OJ C 244 - 25/09/2008, p. 23)

Applications to amend a specification:

'Queso Manchego': PDO (OJ C 255 - 08/10/2008, p. 10)

'Kölsch': PGI (OJ C 254 - 07/10/2008, p. 12)


'Radicchio di Chioggia': PGI (OJ L 277 - 18/10/2008, p. 30)

'České pivo': PGI, 'Cebreiro': PDO (OJ L 276 - 17/10/2008, p. 27)

'Presunto de Campo Maior e Elvas' or 'Paleta de Campo Maior e Elvas': PGI, 'Presunto de Santana da Serra' or 'Paleta de Santana da Serra': PGI, 'Slovenský oštiepok': PGI (OJ L 258 - 26/09/2008, p. 52)

'Salame S. Angelo': PGI, 'Chouriço Azedo de Vinhais' or 'Azedo de Vinhais' or 'Chouriço de Pão de Vinhais': PGI, 'Presunto do Alentejo' or 'Paleta do Alentejo': PDO (OJ L 258 - 26/09/2008, p. 54)

Amendment of specifications:

'Chasselas de Moissac': PDO (OJ L 278 - 21/10/2008, p. 7)

'Panellets': TSG (OJ L 263 - 02/10/2008, p. 3)

'Époisses': PDO (OJ L 258 - 26/09/2008, p. 50)

'Bleu de Gex Haut-Jura' or 'Bleu de Septmoncel': PDO (OJ L 257 - 25/09/2008, p. 8)

'Roquefort': PDO (OJ L 257 - 25/09/2008, p. 10)

'Rocamadour': PDO (OJ L 257 - 25/09/2008, p. 12)