A strong food security
Following the outbreak of Coronavirus, the European Union’s agri-food sector is showing its resilience and continues to provide Europeans with high quality and safe food. Nonetheless, farmers and producers are facing difficulties and increasing pressure.
Maintaining food security remains one of the European Commission’s priorities. Thus, it has been in close contact with EU countries and sectoral organisations to closely monitor the situation.
To support all actors involved, the Commission has taken the necessary actions.
Drawing lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic’s potential impact on food security, in the context of the farm to fork strategy, the Commission has prepared a contingency plan to ensure food supply and food security in the EU in times of crisis. To support this initiative, the Commission undertook a targeted consultation of actors in the food supply chain from 1 March to 3 May 2021.
An efficient food supply chain
Green lanes to keep food flowing across Europe
The Commission is coordinating closely with EU countries to ensure a functioning single market for goods by creating green lanes. These green lanes, based on designated key border crossing-points, will have border crossing checks that will not exceed 15 minutes. Passage is now granted for all goods, including agri-food products.
Seasonal workers qualified as ‘critical workers’ to secure food sector support
The Commission published practical guidelines to ensure that, within the EU, mobile workers who qualify as critical in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic can reach their workplace. Seasonal workers are critical to the agricultural sector in terms of harvesting, planting and tending functions, especially in the current season.
Direct support to farmers and rural areas
loans or guarantees for operational costs
€7,000 per farmer
€50,000 per SME
70% and 85%
advances for CAP payments
Up to €125,000
for state aid
Exceptional market measures
Private storage aid
To stabilise the market by temporarily reducing available supply, the Commission will support private storage aid for dairy (skimmed milk powder, butter, cheese) and meat (beef, sheep and goat meat) products. This measure allows the temporary withdrawal of products from the market for a minimum of 2 to 3 months, and a maximum period of 5 to 6 months.
Temporary derogation from EU competition rules
The Commission will authorise the derogation from certain EU competition rules, available under Article 222 of the common markets organisation regulation, for the milk, flowers and potatoes sectors. It allows operators to self-organise and implement market measures at their level for a maximum period of 6 months. For example, the milk sector will be allowed to collectively plan milk production and the flower and potatoes sector will be allowed to withdraw products from the market. Storage by private operators will also be allowed. Consumer price movements will be monitored closely to avoid adverse effects.
Flexibility for market support programme
The Commission will allow flexibility in the implementation of market support programmes for wine, fruits and vegetables, table olives and olive oil, apiculture and the EU’s school scheme (covering milk, fruit and vegetables). This flexibility aims to limit available supply in each sector to lead to a rebalancing of markets. In addition, it will allow the re-orientation of funding priorities towards crisis management measures.
EU countries and farmers are facing practical difficulties in meeting certain requirements under the CAP and the Commission aims to help through a range of concrete measures.
Extension of deadline for CAP payment applications
The deadline will be extended by a month, offering more time to farmers to fill in their application for both income support and rural development payments.
Fewer farm on-the-spot checks
EU countries normally carry out on-the-spot checks to ensure that CAP beneficiaries meet eligibility requirements. However, in the current exceptional circumstances, it is crucial to minimise physical contact between farmers and inspectors. The Commission has therefore introduced rules allowing on-farm visits to be temporarily replaced by alternative sources of evidence, such as satellite imagery or geo-tagged photos. This measure ensures reliable checks while respecting restriction of movements and minimising physical contacts between farmers and inspectors.