Food Input Supply Chain: reducing overheads while increasing farm gate returns key to maintaining healthy agri-sector. Mairead McGuinness MEP / 19-01-2012
MEPs endorse Parliament's call for a healthy farm input supply chain.
"To achieve food security, people must, at all times, have access to sufficient quantities of nutritious, safe food. To achieve a sustainable food supply chain, food pricing also needs to be balanced so it is affordable while maintaining a fair return to farmers", said Mairead McGuinness MEP at the European Parliament in Strasbourg.
Mrs McGuinness, who co-authored the Farm Input Supply Chain Report on behalf of the EPP Group, explained that the text adopted by Parliament today examines current market structures and identifies significant problems in the input sector. It also suggests policy options aimed at reducing farm input costs, while also improving the overall position of farmers in the food supply chain.
Since 2000, total input costs for farmers across the EU have increased on average by almost 40%, with energy and fertiliser costs rising by 60 and 80% respectively. Farm gate prices have also increased by 25%, but the massive increase in input costs is creating a substantial imbalance between production costs and return on investment.
"European farmers are effectively 'squeezed' at both ends of the supply chain. The rapid increase and volatility in production costs coupled with relentless pressure at the other end of the food supply chain to reduce prices places European farmers in an impossible position", Mrs McGuinness continued.
"A secure food supply chain is vital for Europe and the world; however, farmers face significant obstacles in planning for the future. Problems with the supply of essential farm inputs poses long term challenges, as does the price volatility and inability to forward buy some inputs, in particular fertilisers.
While the political will and enthusiasm for a healthy food chain demonstrated by MEPs in this positive vote is reassuring according to Mrs McGuinness, the challenge of implementing effective change in this area still remains for legislators and industry stakeholders. "This Report is a first step in highlighting the issue of input costs", she added.
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