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Article: Policy Food Agriculture Briefing

07 April 2020 Peter Rixon

Read below article taken from our policy platform dated 06/04/20.

Italy saw signs that supermarket sales were slowing down last week compared with the start of the lockdown in that country.

The country initially saw 21 days of double-digit growth but retail value sales were only increasing by 5.4% in the week between March 16-22, the latest data published by Nielsen reveals. The north-east recorded the highest increases (+8.9%), followed by the south (+8.3%), the north-west (+4.2%) and the centre (+2.3%).

The EU dairy industry expressed alarm that France and Italy have taken unilateral measures to support the dairy markets in their own countries, despite CAP regulations stating that all such market support have to be taken at EU level.

In a letter addressed to Niksa Tkalec, the Croatian official who currently chairs the EU's Special Committee on Agriculture (SCA), EDA President Michel Nalet claimed that some member states were already taking unilateral action to prop up falling market prices, in contravention of CAP rules.

In the UK, an association representing flour millers reported how mills were working round the clock to produce flour as people stayed at home under lockdown rules and rediscovered home baking.

Since the COVID-19 outbreak, and in response to the subsequent lockdown in the UK in late March, both regular bulk buyers and consumers have been purchasing much more flour than normal.

German and UK NGOs called on their governments to provide food support to the most vulnerable as the COVID pandemic saw the closure of a network of food banks and other outlets for society's most vulnerable.

FDA carries on, Trump makes pledge on guestworkers

In the US, FDA Deputy Commissioner for Food Safety and Response, Frank Yiannas, sought to reassure consumers that despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the FDA continued to work on its mission to ensure the safety of the food supply.

US president Donald Trump said that farmers would continue to have access to critical H-2A guestworkers - even as new border restrictions were put in place to curb the spread of COVID-19.

Trump stressed at an April 1st press conference that he understood farmers' need for H-2A workers and vowed to ensure they continue to have access to the critical labour pool - which make up around 10% of the crop farm workforce but are especially important to some subsectors like fruit and produce.

On the same say, a coalition of 35 national trade associations - including the American Farm Bureau Federation, National Farmers Union, the United Fresh Produce Association, livestock organizations, major commodity grower groups and pesticide industry interests - sent a letter to all 50 state governors highlighting the importance of the leadership of state and local officials in addressing the COVID-19 pandemic while calling for several actions to ensure the continued movement of food and ag products.

Globally, the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) reported that the COVID-19 pandemic had driven down food prices.

"The price drops are largely driven by demand factors, not supply, and the demand factors are influenced by ever-more deteriorating economic prospects," FAO's renior Economist Abdolreza Abbassian said.

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Posted 07 April 2020 by Peter Rixon, Managing Editor, EU Food Law and Eurofood Monitor



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