MEPs call for Reboot of EU’s Food Production Strategy
The European Parliament has called for action to make its food production more independent while also calling for immediate and substantial food aid to Ukraine.
A resolution on the need for an urgent EU action plan to ensure food security in and outside the EU following the Russian invasion of Ukraine has been adopted by the Parliament. In the text, MEPs call for immediate help in the form of food supplies for Ukraine, and for a reboot of the EU’s food production strategy.
Ukraine is the European Union’s fourth largest external food supplier, providing fifty-two percent of maize imports, nineteen percent of soft wheat, and twenty-three percent of vegetable oils according to EU Commissioner for Agriculture, Janusz Wojiechowsli.
In February, Michael Scannell, a senior civil servant at the Commission’s agriculture department, told MEPs on the farm committee that, “The consequences of this Russian aggression will have a major impact on our agri-food sector and it will be painful. But we have to suffer that pain.”
MEPs say the COVID-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine have made it apparent that the EU needs to reduce its dependence on imports from too few suppliers. They have called for a diversification of supply from third countries, and demand in the short term that the Commission assess how to cushion the impact of high fertiliser prices on farmers. To reduce the dependence on fertiliser imports in the long term, Parliament proposes a switch to alternative organic sources of nutrients for agriculture and support for agricultural innovation.
Given the disruption to agricultural imports, MEPs have demanded increases in domestic food production. Agricultural land should be used only for the production of food and feed. To address immediate needs, MEPs want it to be possible for farmers to use fallow land for the production of protein crops in 2022. They are seeking that the Commission should also provide support for worst-affected sectors and should mobilise the crisis reserve of €479 million. Member states should also, according to MEPs, be allowed to grant broad, rapid and flexible state aid to operators on the agricultural market.
Given the severe impact the Russian attack on Ukraine will have on food security for Ukrainians, Parliament has also called for robust long-term humanitarian food aid for Ukraine from both the EU and at an international level. MEPs are calling for the opening of food corridors to and from Ukraine, serving as an alternative to closed Black Sea ports. They also want Ukrainian farmers to be provided with scarce seeds, fuels and fertilisers.