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EU prepares for potential food crisis due to war 

Mon 07/03/2022 by Richard Wilkinson

Agriculture ministers held an extraordinary meeting via videoconference to discuss the risk of significant pressures facing the agriculture and agri-food sectors in the wake of the Ukraine invasion. The aim of the meeting was to share initial information and forecasts on supply and prices, identify issues requiring particular vigilance, and consider measures that could be taken both internally and in terms of international cooperation.

Julien Denormandie, French Minister for Agriculture and Food, said: “The terrible events taking place in Ukraine cast a tragic light on the need for us to strengthen our food sovereignty so as to ensure food security in times of crisis, both within the European Union and around the world.”

Ministers began by expressing their unanimous solidarity with Ukraine and calling for the necessary food and humanitarian aid to be mobilised. They then discussed the potentially significant impact of the current crisis on the market situation for agricultural products, as well as on access to agricultural raw materials and inputs.

Following the meeting and the statements by ministers, the EU commissioner for agriculture, Janusz Wojciechowski, expressed his intention to:

  • activate crisis monitoring tools, in particular the European food security crisis preparedness and response mechanism set up by the Commission, and the high-level working group on the pigmeat sector announced at the Council meeting on 21 February;
  • consider introducing exceptional measures under the Common Market Organisation (CMO) regulation aimed at the sectors most affected by the rise in input costs;
  • consider adopting measures aimed at securing and freeing up Europe’s production capacity in 2022, such as using fallow land for protein crops.

These measures will be discussed by the Special Committee on Agriculture as well as at the next Agriculture and Fisheries Council on 21 March.

A number of Member States also called for a more long-term strategy and set of tools to be put in place as soon as possible with a view to improving the EU’s resilience and food sovereignty, and for food sovereignty to be incorporated into the EU’s agricultural policy.

Attention was also given to food security in the Mediterranean and in more vulnerable countries. In this regard, ministers stressed the importance of mobilising all relevant international fora, including the OECD, the G20, the G7 and the FAO, to analyse the issue and to consider short- and medium-term responses. Ministers observed in particular that the next meeting of the AMIS Rapid Reaction Forum, a market observatory set up by the G20 in 2011, would provide a state of play of the situation.

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