The EU must swiftly do more to ensure farmers can continue to supply food during the pandemic and after it ends, Agriculture Committee MEPs told Commissioner Wojciechowski on Wednesday.
Many MEPs welcomed the measures introduced by the European Commission so far to alleviate the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on EU farmers. These include loans or guarantees granted with favourable conditions to cover operational costs of up to €200,000, the reallocation of unused agriculture funds to fight the effects of the COVID-19 crisis in rural areas, fewer physical on-farm checks and an increase of advances of direct payments and rural development payments.
But many speakers insisted this was not enough and called on the Commission to urgently take further and targeted action, including market measures such as private storage, and to activate the crisis reserve to help struggling agricultural sectors.
Several MEPs criticised Commissioner Wojciechowski for talking about budget constraints while the EU is facing such a “devastating” crisis, some of them insisting that EU farm policy will need adequate long-term budget support also in the “post-COVID period”.
You can re-watch the debate here.
In two separate letters addressed on 23 March to Agriculture Commissioner Janusz Wojciechowski and to Croatia's Agriculture Minister Marija Vučković, Agriculture Committee Chair Norbert Lins urgently called for further action to help EU farmers and to avoid a disruption in food supply.
A first discussion of the EU’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak with Commissioner Wojciechowski already took place on 30 March during the meeting of coordinators of political groups in the Agriculture Committee.