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Debates
Thursday, 19 January 2012 - Strasbourg Revised edition

Farm input supply chain - Imbalances in the food supply chain (debate)
MPphoto
 

  Esther de Lange (PPE). (NL) Mr President, this is not the first time we have discussed the highly lop-sided distribution of power and margins in the food production chain. If we are honest, the European Commission has been insulting this Parliament for many years by ignoring our demands. Yes, there is a high-level group, yes, there have been reports, but there have been no concrete initiatives. I am therefore happy with the Commissioner’s minor undertaking.

However, who is it that is suffering because of that lack of action? It is the primary producer. On that score, it is rather telling that we have the Commissioner for Industry here with us. I have heard him speak about industry, about processing and about the competition between companies. However, where does the greatest unfairness in the production chain lie? Right there, in the relationship between the farmer, the primary producer, and the rest of the chain. He has not said anything about that.

And to Mr Agnew, who finds this debate so important that he has already left the room, and all his colleagues from the British Conservative Party, who put the interests of the City of London, with its warped financial products, above the producers of their daily bread, I will tell you how the market really works. When a Dutch tomato producer, during the EHEC crisis, is confronted with a price drop of more than 50% – not through any fault of his own, but just as the result of silly remarks made by a German Minister – he is happy that at least he has a contract with a supermarket for a fixed and agreed price. What happens in reality, however, is that this supermarket – which by the way is German – then returns his tomatoes because it knows that in this crisis, it can force the producer to agree to a lower price.

This, Commissioner, is the way the market works at the moment, and if you had done your job, this would not be possible in a European internal market. This House talks about fair trade with third world countries, but fair trade starts at home, with a fair price for European producers. That is your job, Commissioner.

 
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