Representatives of the Hungarian Agrarian Chamber (NAK), Slovak chamber of agriculture and food (SPPK), the National Council of Agricultural Chambers of Poland (KRIR) and the Agrarian Chamber of the Czech Republic (AKČR) attended 57th meetings of representatives of Agrarian Chambers of the Visegrád Four, which was held in Brno (Czech Republic) on 25th and 26th June 2015.
Representatives of the chambers of agriculture of Visegrád countries discussed the current market situation in agricultural and food commodities with particular focus on the commodities milk and milk products. Several factors such as the increase in production in Oceania and the decline in demand in China contributed to the crisis in the milk sector. Both of these factors could not be in any way influenced by the European farmers. Greatest market disruption was however caused by the closing of the milk quota system together with the Russian ban on imports of agricultural and food products. These two key factors stem to a greater or lesser extent from the policies of the European Union. For this reason, we once again highlight the need for the European Commission, which has so far underestimated the situation and thus contributed to its escalation, to take initiative. Given the gravity of the situation, the solution calls for the utilization of a wide variety of tools that are at the European Commission’s and the member states’ disposal. These include in particular an increase of intervention prices, export promotion subsidies associated with the appropriate export promotion policy (selection of target countries) or direct financial assistance to the European farmers in dire financial situation caused by the plummeting of milk prices. Livestock production plays an irreplaceable role in a balanced system of agriculture and rural employment. Entities focused on livestock production going out of business will likely never return to this entrepreneurial activity.
Representatives of Chambers of Agriculture of the Visegrád Four countries also discussed the issue of unfair practices of retail chains that have plagued suppliers in all four countries of the group. Unbalanced relationships between suppliers and buyers substantially damage the agriculture and food sectors and it is clear that the issue cannot be resolved without a much needed regulation. Representatives of V4 agricultural chambers therefore exchanged experiences with various forms of regulation of the "significant market power" at the national level and expressed their will to support a broader EU framework with a strong independent authority, which would oversee the business relations and apply sanctions in case of the breach of the code.
Another way to support local producers is the promotion of domestic production through the funds for the promotion of agricultural and food production. Therefore participants exchanged experiences with existing schemes for promotion of domestic production and also plans and intentions to implement new funds.
Representatives of chambers of Agriculture Visegrád countries also discussed the benefits of membership in the umbrella non-governmental European organization COPA-COGECA. This topic has been the subject of previous discussions where participants agreed that the priorities of Central and Eastern European member states are underrepresented under COPA-COGECA.
Participants of the meeting also talked in detail about the Russian ban on imports of agricultural and food products and the impact that this decision has had on agriculture and food sectors in each of the V4 member states. After almost 11 months the RF Government Decree has been in effect, in the opinion of representatives of Chambers of Agriculture of Visegrád countries, the time has come to intensify negotiations leading to a gradual mitigation and eventual termination of mutually harmful non-tariff trade obstacles between the European Union and the Russian Federation.
Participants of the meeting agreed that the next meeting of representatives of chambers of agriculture will be held in the beginning of September this year in Slovakia. Final date and place will be specified in due time.
Communique was drawn in five copies, one copy for each delegation, and one will be sent COPA-COGECA.
Member of Board (KRIR)
|Kis Miklós Zsolt