As the EU looks to secure trade deals with Latin America , European farming bodies are now warning that global trades deal in the sugar market could cause problems for over 100,000 EU farm businesses.
The International Federation of Beet Growers, European Farmers and Agri Co-operatives, European Federation of Food, Agriculture and Tourism Trade Unions and European Association of Sugar Manufacturers have all warned of the potential problems the deal could bring to farmers and communities.
The Commission has been working towards achieving a trade deal with the Mercosur trading bloc, which includes Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay and Venezuela. The deal would provide better access to European markets including sugar.
With negotiations due to start imminently, European farmer bodies have warned that striking a new deal could be putting livelihoods at risk. In a statement to the Commission, the groups said opening up the sugar market could “imperil many of the 140,000 farmers, 30,000 employees, and hundreds of rural communities whose livelihoods depend on the sector”.
The groups also warned that “EU sugar beet growers, sugar producers and workers stand determined – we will not pay for the offensive interests of other industrial sectors or for those of the Brazilian state-supported sugar-ethanol regime”
Copa Cogeca secretary general Pekka Pesonen added that the Mercosur bloc is already a major net importer of agricultural produce, saying that “We need fair and balanced trade agreements that ensure that we do not have surpluses on our market.”
“EU farmers and their co-operatives should not be penalised when the EU negotiates free trade deals. They cannot afford additional income losses resulting from a trade deal which puts more pressure on the EU sugar, ethanol and beef markets in a trade deal”
However, CIBE president Bernhard Conzen warned that this could mean “a major and very painful crisis” for the sector, and that “The commission is actually asking beet growers and processors to make sacrifices for Brazilian interests, which is totally unacceptable.
“Ever higher standards for ever lower prices for us, and ultimately importing lower standards, is incomprehensible and nonsense for farmers”
CEFS president Johann Marihart warned that the effects of farms and communities could be potentially devastating, saying that: “The commission continues to dream that our sector is able to handle further opening up of the market without consequences, and continues to hide from reality.
“It might as well tell us which factories in the EU would have to close. And EFFAT secretary general Harald Wiedenhofer warned that the employment impact could be devastating.”
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