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Article: Food & Ag Policy Briefing - 11 May

12 May 2020 Peter Rixon

This article is taken from IEG Policy platform dated 11/05/20.

AEI Visiting Scholar and former USDA Chief Economist Joe Glauber said he believed governments and food companies will eventually get a handle on COVID-19 in food processing facilities through new prevention measures. But he said: "The longer run issue, though, I think is a recession," with expected economic declines weighing heavily on ag producers and on the poor.

At the beginning of the week, there was talk of delaying the EU's Farm-to-Fork Strategy because of COVID. The strategy looks at creating a more sustainable food system and at reducing agrochemicals and obesity. The European large trade group, FoodDrinkEurope, said any delay was a chance to refocus ambitions on "economic and social necessities". However, NGOs, such as Slow Food Europe, said it was a chance to focus on stronger environmental measures to drive sustainable transition forward.

Despite talk of delays, the European Commission's vice president, Fran Timmermans, told agriculture MEPs last week that the EU executive will adopt the Farm to Fork (F2F) strategy on May 20.

MEPs were actively seeking to delay new EU organic legislation which is due to come into force in January next year in order to allow farmers to focus on COVID challenges. "In light of the difficulties imposed by the current COVID-19 outbreak and considering that the sector needs legal stability, we consider that rushing through the adoption of the delegated acts is not the most suitable solution," German MEP Norbert Lins wrote in a letter last week to European Agriculture Commissioner, Janusz Wojciechowski.

Separately, the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil called on the Commission to use regulation to stop deforestation in the commodities supply chain.

The EU is one of the world's biggest importers of the commodities associated with deforestation, importing 80% of global cocoa exports, 60% of coffee, 41% of beef, 30% of maize, 25% of both palm oil and rubber, and 15% of soy.

Regulation would roll out compliance and due diligence, as well as creating a level playing field for companies that are already ensuring that they have deforestation-free supply chains, the RSPO said in a new position paper.

COVID actions

In Spain, the wine sector called for financial measures to relieve the impact on its industry. The aim of the new measures would be to prevent thousands of winegrowers and hundreds of wineries from having to leave their crops unharvested or to face a possible closure of their businesses, the association OIVE said.

In Russia, the government said it would impose fines on grain storage companies that seek to unnecessarily raise prices during the outbreak.

Estonia revealed it would be opening its restaurants again whilst a food association in the UK published guidance on the safe re-opening of food factories.

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Posted 12 May 2020 by Peter Rixon, Managing Editor, EU Food Law and Eurofood Monitor



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