On 16 December 2013 the European Commission adopted a report on the case for an optional quality term "product of island farming".
The report examines the socio-economic implications of island farming and the specificities of agricultural production in islands.
It also reviews existing labelling schemes and reflects on the interest of reserving a new Optional Quality Term (OQT) "product of island farming".
In a nutshell
The report ascertains challenges that the agriculture on islands faces and their impact on the qualities/characteristics of island products.
As islands tend to be very different, and as those qualities/ characteristics are normally due to factors present on a given island, it seems unrealistic to establish specific characteristics common for all island products.
The report also identifies existing EU measures and labelling schemes for marketing island farming products and for protecting them against misuse.
Those measures and tools relate to island products rather indirectly. Currently, no legal instrument at EU or national level is specifically devoted to protecting products originating from islands or island farming as such.
After analysing whether establishing a new term "product of island farming" would add value to island product as compared with similar ones, the Commission presents the advantages and drawbacks of reserving an OQT "product of island farming" at the EU level:
- Such a term could help to protect island farming products against misuse.
- It could also be adequate for some small scale producers, in particular on small islands not benefiting from a sufficient scale to use other marketing tools (as collective, certification, territorial brands, PDO/PGI schemes, RUP logo).
- However, reserving a term "product of island farming" could penalise producers already engaged in quality schemes.
- Furthermore, considering that the majority of island products is sold locally or within the Member State to which the island belongs, the possibility that the regulation of labelling claims could be better addressed at Member State level is emphasised.
- Finally, it is argued that the structural problems faced by islands might be better addressed by the existing structural instruments.
Regulation (EU) No 1151/2012 on quality schemes for agricultural products and foodstuffs asks the Commission to present no later than 4 January 2014 "a report to the European Parliament and to the Council on the case for for a new term 'product of island farming'".
In order to get a better view of island farming across the European Union, the Commission has undertaken a broad range of activities, consulting Member States and stakeholders separately and in the relevant forums (Advisory Group on Quality of Agricultural Production and Expert Group for sustainability and quality of agriculture and rural development).
The Commission organised a workshop at the Joint Research Center - Institute for Prospective Technological Studies premises, devoted to the "Labelling of Products of Island Farming and Food Industries” (Seville, 13-14/6/2013).
These activities and a JRC Scientific and Policy Report elaborated following the workshop have provided essential input to the report on the case for an optional quality term "product of island farming".