How to strengthen farmers' bargaining position
To better equip farmers to cope with market volatility and manage crises, but also to strengthen their price bargaining position, producer organisations and "interbranch" organisations of producers, traders and/or processors should be given significantly wider powers and new tools, MEPs argued throughout the negotiations.
As a general rule, member states would be free to decide whether or not to recognise a producer or interbranch organisations. However, in some cases, they would be required to recognise producer organisations in the fruit and vegetable sector, the olive oil and table olive sector, the silkworm sector and the hops sector and interbranch organisations in the olive oil, table olives and tobacco sectors, Parliament, Council and Commission agreed.
EU competition rules applicable to the agricultural sector should be clarified to improve the functioning of the internal market and strengthen farmers' position in the food supply chain, the three institutions agreed, following Parliament's lead. Agreements, decisions and concerted practices of farmer organisations or associations should be allowed unless they harm competition, as they are necessary to achieve the objectives of EU farm policy.
Furthermore, EU competition rules should be applied uniformly to prevent them being interpreted differently by each member state's national competition authorities, according to the text agreed on the basis of Parliament's original position.
To boost farmers' bargaining power to get fair prices for their products, farmers' organisations in the olive oil, beef, cereals and protein crops sectors should be allowed to negotiate supply contracts on behalf of their members, without falling foul of competition law.
In negotiations, MEPs insisted that contract provisions already in force for dairy farmers (adopted by Parliament in February 2012) must be extended to all agricultural sectors. According to the agreed text, member states should be able to decide whether or not to impose contracts covering delivery of farm produce from farmers to processors or distributors for their territory. However, if these contracts are made compulsory, they must be drawn up before delivery and state the price, payment periods and arrangements for collecting and delivering the product in question. Member states should also be able to stipulate a minimum duration for these contracts of at least six months.
Supply management for PDO and PGI ham and cheese products
To improve the working of the market with ham and cheese registered under a protected designation of origin (PDO) or protected geographical indication (PGI) and to improve their quality, MEPs insisted on a provision to enable member states to establish a supply management system for ham and cheese products for up to three years (although prolongation would be possible), provided that it in no way harms competition or free movement of goods. Such measures must not allow price fixing, says the agreed text.