Brussels in Brief: 4th - 8th November

Friday, 8 November, 2019

UK farming unions submit evidence opposing duties on AN fertilisers from Russia 

This week BAB submitted evidence as part of the review the Commission is currently undertaking into the antidumping measures in place on Russian ammonium nitrate (AN) fertilisers. The review will consider if the duties currently in place should be continued for the next five-year period and if so, at what level.

The UK farming unions are aligned with European farmers’ organisation Copa, in calling for the expiration of these duties. We believe that the imposition of duties means that European nitrogen fertilizer price trades above the world price, undermining the competitiveness of EU farmers. Copa calculates that the duties have cost European farmers more than one billion euros in the period 2002 – 2013. 

MEPs discuss long-term prospects for the European beef sector

Agriculture committee MEPs will discuss the long-term prospects for the European beef sector on Tuesday and will question Commission officials on this high profile topic. As a major player in the European beef sector - third largest producer after France and Germany - the long-term sustainability of the sector is of critical importance to our members throughout the UK.

In a briefing sent to the UK MEPs on the agriculture committee we highlight where we believe there to be a lack of transparency and competition in the beef market. We also recognise the role that British farmers have to play in tackling climate change and meeting the UK’s net zero ambitions.

Finally, we ask MEPs to ensure that any new trade deals are fully assessed before they are concluded, in order to ensure a level playing field for domestic producers and confidence and clarity for consumers. 

EU Farm to Fork Strategy

Shortly after she was elected as the new President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, announced several new policies including the ‘European Green Deal’. This cornerstone policy will encompass a number of goals and objectives and aim to enshrine in law a greenhouse gas emissions reduction target.

Part of the Green Deal will be the ‘farm to fork’ strategy which plans to ensure that all Europeans have access to safe, affordable, nutritious food. While full details of the strategy are yet to emerge, it seems that rules will focus on reducing agricultural emissions, providing consumers with more transparent information and improving farmer incomes. Some parts of the strategy will be based on existing regulations and directives and other targets will require new rules. The BAB office will be following developments of the strategy closely as new details become available.   

Animal welfare NGOs launch call for end to CO2 stunning

Eurogroup for Animals, the umbrella organisation for animal welfare NGOs, has published a position paper calling for an end to stunning pigs with carbon dioxide (CO2). High concentrations of CO2 are commonly used to stun pigs for slaughter. CO2 stunning is one of the most commonly used methods of stunning before slaughter as it can be very carefully monitored and there is a reduced risk of potential human error. Eurogroup for Animals argues that the method causes distress to pigs and calls for a ban by 2025 and increased research into alternatives.

However, the UK farming unions would argue that there are no better available alternatives at present, and CO2 stunning provides improved welfare benefits on other methods as it allows pigs to be kept in groups with minimal intervention from abattoir staff. Whilst research into alternatives is welcome, at present there is no suitable alternative to CO2 stunning.

For more information on this topic please see the National Pig Association’s briefing.