My Plan to Begin Repairing our Broken Food Chain

Source: Ph. (Phil) Hogan i, published on Friday, September 16 2016.

This has been an important week for the battle to restore balance to the EU Food Supply Chain.

This has been an important week for the battle to restore balance to the EU Food Supply Chain.

As someone who grew up on a mixed family farm, I understand that the bottom line comes first. If farmers don't get a fair price for their work - if they can't make a decent living - then the food production equation is out of sync.

In Europe, the equation has been out of sync for some time now. The farmer's share of what EU consumers spend on food is being continuously squeezed by the clear imbalance of power between producers, retailers and other links of the food supply chain.

In my view, this is simply not good enough. A well-functioning food supply chain is absolutely essential for our society. Farming, food processing, retail and food service represent over 44 million jobs in 14 million businesses across the EU. This is one of our biggest employment sectors.

And our consumers can only be guaranteed a safe food supply if farmers are guaranteed a fair share of the pie.

President Juncker recognised this fact in his State of the Union Address. And it formed a central theme for the informal Council of Agriculture Ministers' discussion in Bratislava earlier this week.

As a response to this ongoing problem - and as a part of last autumn's €500 million package to address market imbalances - I decided to set up an Agricultural Markets Task Force.

This group, which is chaired by former Dutch Agriculture Minister Cees Veerman, became operational in January this year and consists of 12 senior experts with relevant expertise from relevant parts of the food chain.

The task force will provide the Commission with advice on how to address these challenges in areas like transparency, collective self-help tools, access to financing and futures, contractualisation and contractual relations. Its overarching mandate is to strengthen the farmer's position in the food chain.

Today, DG AGRI hosted a joint meeting of the Taskforce and senior officials from Member States agriculture departments. This meeting will benefit the work of the Taskforce by providing insights and experiences from Member States on vital issues such as the milk market, without prejudging the outcome of its work.

A report with conclusions and legislative recommendations to improve the balance in the chain will be presented by the Taskforce later this year, and may form the basis for future policy options.

Our farmers are the key link of the food chain and their place is currently not strong enough.