EU rules to prevent antibiotics from being used as growth promoters
Plans to limit the use of antibiotics on farms in order to keep food free from resistant bacteria were adopted by European Parliament on Thursday.

Veterinary medicines must not under any circumstances serve to improve the performance or compensate for poor animal husbandry, says the new law voted on by Parliament this Thursday. The law, when introduced, would limit the use of antimicrobials unless they are prescribed by a vet.

The law also states that imported foods will have to meet these new EU standards and that antibiotics cannot be used to enhance the growth of animals.

The agreement still has to be formally adopted by Council before publication on the Official Journal

To help tackle antimicrobial resistance, the law would empower the European Commission to select antimicrobials to be reserved only for treating humans.

The agreement with EU ministers was adopted with 583 votes to 16 and 20 abstentions. The agreement still has to be formally adopted by Council before publication on the Official Journal.

“The devil is however in the detail,” commented Roxane Feller, secretary general of AnimalhealthEurope.

“There are a considerable number of implementing measures – 29 – in total meaning that there is still a lot of work to be done to agree the finer details of how we will implement the changes."

Medicated feed

In a separate vote, MEPs also approved new rules on more responsible ways to produce, sell and use medicated feed to tackle the spread of antimicrobial resistance.

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Map: animal antibiotic use in Europe

Farming can’t ignore drug resistance – Huey

EU 2030 outlook good for dairy, poultry and protein crops, bad for beef
The European Commission is holding its annual agricultural outlook conference in Brussels and has published market forecasts for the next decade.

The European Commission has issued a stark warning to beef farmers in its agricultural market outlook until 2030.

Following growth in the past three years, "production is expected to decrease again, influenced by the shrinking cow herd, low profitability, declining beef demand and strong export competition despite the opening of niche markets", the EU forecasts.

The Commission expects beef prices to fall in the next few years, before stabilising until 2030.

EU consumers are forecast to continue switching to poultry, which should see production expand by 4% over the next 12 years, with exports also growing.

Sheep markets are expected to "recover slightly" with improved returns for producers. Declining pigmeat consumption in the EU should be balanced with export growth.

Pasture-based dairy growth

Growing population, especially in Africa, will drive demand for dairy products. Meanwhile, EU consumers will continue to eat more cheese and differentiated products, with "pasture-based" identified as one of the growth categories.

The Commission forecasts a 0.8% annual increase in EU milk production over the next decade, largely thanks to growing yields.

"However, this will be at a slower pace than in the past decade, given environmental constraints and the extensification of production in response to consumer expectations," it warned.

Stable grain prices

The most significant change on tillage farms will be the development of local feed and protein crops, according to the forecast: "Strong demand both for feed purposes and for human consumption, as well as the supportive policy environment, will further drive production growth of soya beans and protein crops."

However, this will remain a small part of the sector. Cereals and oilseeds are seen to remain stable over the next decade, with base grain prices close to €170/t.

Overall farm incomes are forecast to remain static as a 17% increase in farmgate prices will be absorbed by a similar rise in production costs.

Talks to continue on EU legislation for fairness in the food chain
Proposals to reduce the dominance of retailers and large processors in the agri-food industry will take some more "weeks" to be finalised.

The latest round of discussions between the European Parliament, Council and Commission ended on Thursday night witout agreement on proposed EU legislation to tackle unfair trading practices in agriculture and food markets.

"We are committed to cutting the unfair [trading practices] but, at the same time, we want an ambitious new law that will ensure the highest possible level of protection for our farmers and thus safeguard the long-term sustainability of agri-food communities," said MEP Paolo De Castro, the Parliament's lead negotiator on this issue.

“We still have time and we will invest the upcoming weeks into achieving the best quality result that our farmers, food producers and consumers deserve.”

Deadline

The trialogue between European institutions to agree the text began on 25 October, with a Christmas deadline if legislation is to be passed before EU elections next May.

The Commission's proposal would outlaw some practices including late payments and cancellations of orders, but has been criticised for failing to introduce an outright ban on below-cost selling and full transparency on pricing along the food chain.

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MEPs vote to ‘arm the weakest in the supply chain’

Split views on unfair trading practices legislation

Healy represents farmers at EU food chain fairness forum
A new EU group brings together actors of agri-food markets to tackle unfair trading practices, with the IFA representing European farmers.

IFA president Joe Healy attended his first meeting of the EU high-level forum for a better functioning of the food supply chain in Brussels on Wednesday.

The EU-wide farm organisation COPA appointed Healy to represent farmers on the forum, alongside processors, traders, retailers and NGOs.

European Commissioner for Internal Market Elzbieta Bienkowska and member state representatives also take part in the forum, as proposed legislation to outlaw unfair trading practices in agri-food markets is currently before EU institutions.

"Many retailers are behaving like modern-day dictatorships, abusing their power to accumulate vast profits. The current situation, where processors and retailers make a margin, with farmers forced to produce at or below the cost of production, is unacceptable,” said Healy.

Although not currently covered by proposed legislation, he added that market transparency and price reporting across the food supply chain should be a priority and called on the forum to deliver fairness for all, including producers.

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MEPs vote to ‘arm the weakest in the supply chain’

UTP legislation getting closer