Phil Hogan, Member of the EC in charge of Agriculture and Rural Development, held a joint press conference with Gabriela Matečná, Slovak Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development and President in office of the Council, following the Agriculture and Fisheries Council on 15 November 2016 in Brussels. The second day of the Agriculture and Fisheries Council meeting was dedicated to Agriculture.
Phil Hogan briefed the Ministers on the results of the work of the Agricultural Markets Task Force (AMTF) and its final recommendations. The Task Force's report includes a series of recommendations on how to improve the position of farmers in the food chain in relation to, among others: market transparency, risk management, trading practices, access to financial instruments and futures markets, contractual relations and competition. The report also addresses the problem of unfair trading practices and the possible introduction of European-wide baseline legislation to limit this phenomenon. Ministers welcomed the report and expressed continued commitment to improve collaboration along the food supply chain and to strengthen the bargaining position of farmers.
The Commission also presented to the Council the results of its economic study on the cumulative effects of concessions made in the context of free trade agreements on the EU agricultural sector. The study covers 12 future trade agreements on the agri-food sector and their impact on producer prices and production volumes for a range of products accounting for 30% of the value of the EU exports in the sector. The results of the study highlight that significant gains can be anticipated for the EU dairy and pig meat sectors, but also show that there could be risks for the beef and rice sectors. In the debate that followed the presentation, Ministers expressed the need for balanced trade agreements that respect the vulnerabilities of some EU agricultural sectors.
Finally, the Council discussed the role of research and innovation for sustainable agriculture, focusing on how to widen the participation in agri-food research and bioeconomy and make it more balanced, as well as how to improve the implementation of the bioeconomy strategy, especially in low performing regions. Ministers generally agreed on the importance of research and innovation in enhancing the competitiveness and sustainability of EU agriculture and highlighted the central role of bioeconomy and regions. Some also argued in favour of redressing any imbalances which might exist in the Horizon 2020 funding.