BRUSSELS, BELGIUM — The European Feed Manufacturers’ Federation (FEFAC), has expressed its solidarity with European livestock farmers in the light of the current market crisis.

Falling prices have left some European livestock producers near bankruptcy. They are feeling the impacts of a Russian embargo and cheaper foreign competition. Farmers protested in Paris on Sept. 3 in 1,500 tractors, demanding an overhaul of the system. E.U. farm ministers will meet on Sept. 7 to discuss the troubled livestock industry.

FEFAC said it shares the concerns voiced by COPA-COGECA regarding the drastic market situation for E.U. livestock products and supports their call on the Farm Council to consider immediate and targeted action to relieve market pressure on livestock producers. The feed industry’s success depends on the viability of the European livestock sector and is therefore committed to explore all possibilities to maximize the competitiveness of the feed supply chain.

FEFAC said it has been directing attention to the risk of diminished competitiveness of the European livestock sector because of a lack in legislative global harmonization when it comes to feed production. Through the use of long-term contracts and the hedging of financial risks, compound feed manufacturers traditionally fulfill a service role to the livestock sector as a market “buffer” against any short-term volatility on the raw materials market. However, the feed sector’s capacity to provide effective “arbitrage” to market volatility, through using the most competitive alternative feed materials, is hampered by a series of regulatory and market restrictions, thereby threatening the strategic raw material supply, FEFAC said.

With a view to increase the competitiveness of the European livestock farmers, FEFAC recommends the establishment of a dedicated council working group to analyze key market and regulatory pressures that impair the feed industry’s capacity to alleviate the cost burden on livestock farmers. FEFAC also said the current Commission’s GM import “opt-out” proposal is a severe threat to livestock farmers in member states aiming to ban the use of GM feed materials, thereby cutting off market access to competitive feed supplies.

FEFAC suggests the E.U. Council reject this proposal and recommend more harmonization of E.U. sanitary and trade standards related to feed production and supply, in order to ensure a level playing field for both feed and livestock producers and secure the strategic raw material supply. In addition, the E.U. Farm Ministers should intensify the analysis on how to increase the competitiveness of E.U. protein production, both for existing (oilseed meals) and alternative protein sources (algae, microbial protein and insects).