"Local agriculture and short food supply chains"

(Brussels, 20/04/2012)
The CAP reform proposals for post 2013 adopted by the Commission on 12 October 2011 envisage a number of new possibilities for the economic development of small-scale farming with a local market orientation. In addition, other CAP policies and EU legislation on food hygiene are important for growth on such holdings. The focus of the conference was on the use of policy instruments, facilitating access to markets as well as reinforcing links between farmers and consumers, and improving the implementation of relevant hygiene legislation applying to short food supply chains.
In particular, the following issues have been addressed:
•the implementation of adequate CAP support;
•opportunities in local food systems, short marketing chains (including direct sales) by increasing consumer awareness of local farm products;
•the need to better use the existing provisions of  relevant EU  legislation adapted to small-scale food operators and direct sales; cooperation of farmers/small food business operators with competent authorities responsible for hygiene.
Some extraits of the speech of M. Dacian Ciolos, Member of the European Commission, Responsible for Agriculture and Rural Development
The fact is that the demand is there, but it is not structured well enough, it has not been sufficiently well identified, and it is not accessible enough. There is a lack of research, which is something that will probably come up repeatedly in the discussions. Nonetheless, all the available studies concur that there is high consumer demand for local products. This was highlighted once again by surveys conducted in the UK and Germany as recently as last year.
According to a Eurobarometer survey, one in two consumers regret that local products are hard to find and difficult to distinguish from other products. Yet, there is a structural failure to meet these concerns and certain political and business circles harbour deep-rooted prejudices against this type of marketing.
Short supply chains have too long been overlooked. Yet, available data show that already, despite the lack of recognition and support, 15% of EU farms sell more than half of their produce locally.
I have to say, since I took office as Commissioner, I have often been asked: ‘Why do you talk about short supply chains? You promote small and uncompetitive farms that cater to the richest consumers’. I am sure that this conference will enable us to demonstrate the opposite, to break down these prejudices, to create a new approach to short supply chains and to find effective solutions to end the contradictions that I have just highlighted.
At least, this is what I hope, because I am convinced that ‘local food supply services’ have tremendous potential.
They present a modern view of our relationship to food as well as a certain vision of the economic competitiveness of farming and its social and environmental efficiency.
Not only do they eliminate the need for long-haul transport, they also boost local economies and empower consumers to play an active part in the economic development of their local area.
More info: Europa website

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