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Supply Chain

EU Countries To Demand Bloc Does More To Help Farmers, Draft Statement Says

By Reuters
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EU Countries To Demand Bloc Does More To Help Farmers, Draft Statement Says

European Union country leaders will urge the EU to work quickly on more measures to support farmers in response to months of protests by angry agriculture workers, draft conclusions for an EU leaders' summit showed.

The EU has already watered down some environmental policies in response to the sometimes violent protests, but with farmers still taking to the streets this week in Belgium and France, Brussels is under pressure to do more.

Draft conclusions for an EU summit on 21-22 March, seen by Reuters, showed EU country leaders plan to ask the European Commission to work without delay on "all possible short-term measures, including those to reduce the administrative burden and achieve simplification for farmers".

The EU should also take action to strengthen the position of farmers in the food supply chain, and ensure they can earn a fair income, the draft said.

New Proposals

Having already withdrawn a law to reduce pesticides and weakened some nature protection measures, the EU is looking at new proposals to ease pressures on European farmers, including a reduction in farm inspections and the possibility of exempting small farms from some environmental standards.

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The crisis in the sector comes as Europe faces increasingly dire warnings from scientists about the environmental damage industrial farming is causing, and the urgent need to protect nature in the face of worsening climate change.

The EU Environment Agency this week said current EU food policies are failing to address climate change risks.

It suggested Europe consider policies to encourage less livestock farming, since shifting to plant-based proteins could help farmers reduce their reliance on imported animal feed and use less water, which climate change is making an increasingly scarce resource in drought-stricken southern Europe.

Angry farmers have staged protests from Poland, to Germany, to France and Slovenia in recent months to draw attention to numerous complaints, including cheap supermarket prices, low-cost imports from outside of Europe, and EU green policies some say are excessive.

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