In the International Year of Pulses, Copa and Cogeca, together with FEFAC and COCERAL, organised this week a workshop hosted by MEP Petri Sarvamaa to look at the benefits of the EU pulses and protein crops sector and to reflect on how to reach the potential of the sector.
The EU currently has a deficit in vegetable protein supply. But a broad and diversified access to feed ingredients is a key factor for the competitiveness of the feed and livestock industry in Europe. Furthermore, pulses are known to have clear environmental benefits in terms of benefiting biodiversity and improving soil quality while at the same time ensuring quality feed supplies for animals. Pulses cover around 2.5 million hectares of EU arable land and provide zones of pollination and nesting for bees, butterflies as well as other birds and insects.
At the event, the EU Commissions’ Directorate-General for Agriculture underlined the strategic role of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) which supports protein crops and launched a new initiative which provides up-to-date information on supply and demand trends via the creation of a comprehensive balance sheet for protein supply. Such a balance sheet will increase market transparency and enable the market potential of EU protein crops to be better assessed.
MEP Petri Sarvamaa from Finland said “In the post 2020 CAP reform, the EU needs to provide further market tools which can push the pulses sector to reach its full potential. In our efforts to meet the ever increasing demand of feed and food vegetable protein, the producers need support and tools to be able to provide nutritious and sustainable protein crops cost-effectively and affordably for the end user.”
Speaking at the event, Copa & Cogeca Cereals and Oilseeds Working Party Chairman Max Schulman said “Already protein crop production is increasing in the EU thanks to new measures under the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). But protein production needs to be further enhanced by providing producers with the right support and tools to produce protein crops cost-effectively in the framework of the CAP post 2020. Research and development also needs to be stepped up and genetic breeding techniques improved”. Pekka Pesonen, Secretary-General of Copa and Cogeca, stressed that this event highlights the fact that one of the main priorities of the Copa and Cogeca feedingstuffs working party is to explore all the opportunities that exist to use EU protein sources to the benefit of the whole farming community
Presenting the EU feed industry perspective, Pavel Musil, Chair of FEFAC’s Industrial Compound Feed Production Committee, added “The EU compound feed industry supports the development of European-wide solutions to enhance the competitive production of vegetable protein sources.”
Concluding the event, the moderator Paul Rooke, COCERAL Board member, welcomed the positive contributions and the willingness of industry and the EU Commission to work together to improve market data. He suggested a widening of this collaborative approach to bring in the plant breeding and food sectors as this would also be beneficial and would allow the capture of the exciting research opportunities presented during the discussion.