COLOGNE, GERMANY — The FEFAC Public General Assembly took place June 10 in Cologne under the theme, “Securing the future of E.U. livestock industry and feed production.”

During the opening speech, FEFAC President Ruud Tijssens highlighted the reshaped Feed Safety Management Vision as the key element to build on achievements made in feed safety management in the entire supply chain.

Tijssens strongly criticized the E.U. commission proposal to renationalize decisions on prohibiting use of E.U. approved GM crop imports, as it compromises vital market access of the E.U. livestock sector to protein-rich feed ingredients.

The first expert panel session, moderated by Pavel Musil, chairman of the FEFAC Industrial Compound Feed Production Committee, focused on securing the European raw material supply.

The European Commission Director for Agricultural Markets (DG AGRI) Jens Schaps, presented the 2014 production and import figures on key feed commodities including E.U. cereals and soybean meal.

He highlighted that the composition of used protein ingredients has changed over the last decades, namely by the increased inclusion of rapeseed and sunflower meal. On the “opt-out” proposal for GM import approvals, Schaps said the commission had to address the political reality, with member states providing “no opinion” votes for the past decade. He stressed, however, that the barrier for member states justification to derogate from the overarching E.U. approval system based on the EFSA risk assessment is very high.

Guillaume Roué, president of the International Meat Secretariat, expressed his concerns over the weakened competitiveness of the European pig farming sector, as feed costs have been steadily increasing over the past decade, while E.U. meat exporters are struggling to capture new markets because of the Russian embargo.

Roué commended the buffer role the feed industry plays in facing market volatility, though he stressed the need for resolving feed supply chain issues around acceptance of GMOs and processed animal protein as well as preserving Biosecurity on farms as well as for feed production to prevent virus outbreaks.

Max Schulman, chairman of the COPA-COGECA Cereals Committee, warned of a decreased availability of rapeseed meal because of a loss in acreage due to the implementation of Ecological Focus Areas under the reformed CAP, and the loss of yields because of the EU ban on neonicotinoids.

Chair of the COCERAL Feed, Food & Environment Section Jean-Michel Aspar criticized the E.U. legislator’s drive to create new import barriers for feed ingredients precisely in market areas where the E.U. is strongly dependent.

The second session of the day focused on the future cooperation between official and private sector controls on feed safety management and was moderated by Sara Galletti, chairperson of the FEFAC Feed Safety Management Committee.

In a keynote speech, Acting Head of the Animal Nutrition Unit in DG SANTE Marta Ponghellini gave an overview of 10 years’ experience with the reformed E.U. feed legislative framework. She highlighted that the general objectives of the General Food Law are still relevant, but new challenges (i.e. emerging technologies, novel feed and Antimicrobial Resistance, AMR) should be taken into account when upgrading the overall E.U. feed legislation.

The three levels of feed safety controls were represented in the expert roundtable discussion: feed business operators who are the primary responsible to secure feed safety; officials from member state competent control authorities in charge of checking whether operators comply with legal requirements; and the Food and Veterinary Office in charge of verifying the effectiveness of national official control systems.

In order to improve efficiency of this model, the panelists acknowledged the value of cooperation between authorities and operators through better information and data exchange on emerging risks. The panelists gave several examples of successful cooperation between authorities and industry on the management of safety risks to illustrate the importance of transparency and trust among partners: “earned recognition” of feed safety management systems developed by operators in U.K., the development of self-checking guides in Belgium or exchange of information between operators and authorities to facilitate classification of operators for inspection frequency were mentioned as positive developments.