The European Commission has launched an E.U.-wide public consultation on how to make the E.U. food supply chain fairer.
Farmers, citizens and other interested parties are invited to share their views on the functioning of the food supply chain through an online consultation that runs until Nov. 17.
There are indications that the added value in the food supply chain is not adequately distributed across all levels of the chain due, for instance, to differences in bargaining power between smaller and thus more vulnerable operators including farmers and small businesses, and their economically stronger and highly concentrated commercial partners.
"Farmers are the first link in the chain and without them, there would not be food to process, sell and consume,” said Phil Hogan, Agricultural and rural development commissioner. “However, we notice that they often remain the weakest link. It is to address the shortcomings in the food supply chain that we are leading the way to act, in accordance with the Commission's longstanding position to stand by European farmers. I encourage all E.U. citizens, farmers, stakeholders to share their views with us through this online consultation."
The European Commission is interested in gathering input to assess the necessity and expedience of possible measures to be taken at the E.U. level to address or regulate unfair trading practices with respect to agri-food products.
The Commission is also keen to assess the level of market transparency across the chain and where it can be improved. Considering the need for some degree of competition, the consultation will help judging whether the introduction of supplementary E.U. market transparency arrangements is necessary.
Finally, the questionnaire scans the level of interest in producer cooperation and the use of so-called value sharing agreements (namely the sharing of market bonuses and losses resulting from evolutions of the relevant market prices), which are already in use in some sectors such as sugar.
The consultation draws on the work of the Agricultural Markets Task Force (AMTF), set up by Commissioner Hogan in January 2016. The AMTF suggested a number of concrete ways to strengthen the position of farmers in the food supply chain, and the consultation will build on this work to inform the Commission's potential future work.
An inception impact assessment, detailing a range of possible policy options, has also been published for consultation and feedback, and a full impact assessment will also be carried out on any future initiative to improve the food supply chain.
Any future proposals from the Commission will also be coherent with the broader approach to simplify and modernize the Common Agricultural Policy.