The event encouraged a more collaborative approach to encourage more plant breeding and food sectors research opportunities.
BRUSSELS, BELGIUM — In the International Year of Pulses, Copa and Cogeca, together with FEFAC and COCERAL, organized a workshop to look at the benefits of the E.U. pulses and protein crops sector and to reflect on how to reach the potential of the sector.

According to the three ag groups, the E.U. currently has a deficit in vegetable protein supply. But a broad and diversified access to feed ingredients is a key factor for the competitiveness of the feed and livestock industry in Europe. Furthermore, pulses are known to have clear environmental benefits in terms of benefiting biodiversity and improving soil quality while at the same time ensuring quality feed supplies for animals, the groups said. Pulses cover around 2.5 million hectares of E.U. arable land and provide zones of pollination and nesting for bees, butterflies as well as other birds and insects.

At the event, the E.U. Commissions’ Directorate-General for Agriculture underlined the strategic role of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), which supports protein crops and launched a new initiative that provides up-to-date information on supply and demand trends via the creation of a comprehensive balance sheet for protein supply. Such a balance sheet will increase market transparency and enable the market potential of E.U. protein crops to be better assessed.

“In the post 2020 CAP reform, the E.U. needs to provide further market tools that can push the pulses sector to reach its full potential,” said MEP Petri Sarvamaa from Finland. “In our efforts to meet the ever increasing demand of feed and food vegetable protein, the producers need support and tools to be able to provide nutritious and sustainable protein crops cost-effectively and affordably for the end user.”

“Already protein crop production is increasing in the E.U. thanks to new measures under the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP),” said Max Schulman, Copa & Cogeca Cereals and Oilseeds Working Party chairman. “But protein production needs to be further enhanced by providing producers with the right support and tools to produce protein crops cost-effectively in the framework of the CAP post 2020. Research and development also needs to be stepped up and genetic breeding techniques improved.”  

Pekka Pesonen, secretary-general of Copa and Cogeca, stressed that the event highlights the fact that one of the main priorities of the Copa and Cogeca feedingstuffs working party is to explore all the opportunities that exist to use E.U. protein sources to the benefit of the whole farming community.

Presenting the E.U. feed industry perspective, Pavel Musil, chair of FEFAC’s Industrial Compound Feed Production Committee, said, “The E.U. compound feed industry supports the development of European-wide solutions to enhance the competitive production of vegetable protein sources.”

Concluding the event, the moderator Paul Rooke, COCERAL board member, welcomed the positive contributions and the willingness of industry and the E.U. Commission to work together to improve market data. He suggested a widening of this collaborative approach to bring in the plant breeding and food sectors as this would also be beneficial and would allow the capture of the exciting research opportunities presented during the discussion.

COCERAL is the European association of trade in cereals, rice, feedstuffs oilseeds, olive oil, oils and fats and agrosupply. It represents the interest of the European collectors, traders, importers, exporters and port silo storekeepers of the above mentioned agricultural products. COCERAL’s full members are 26 national associations in 18 countries and 1 European association. With about 2,500 companies as part of COCERAL national members, the sector trades agricultural raw materials destined to the supply of the food and feed chains, as well as for technical and energy uses. 

FEFAC is the European Compound Feed Manufacturers’ Federation, represents 25 national associations in 24 E.U. member states as well as associations in Switzerland, Turkey, Serbia, Russia and Norway with observer/associate member status. The European compound feed industry employs more than 110,000 persons on approximately 4,000 production sites often in rural areas, which offer few employment opportunities.

Copa and Cogeca are the united voice of farmers and agri-cooperatives in the E.U. Together, they work for agriculture that is sustainable, innovative and competitive in the E.U. Copa represents nearly 23 million farmers and their families while Cogeca represents the interests of 22,000 agricultural cooperatives. They have 66 member organizations from the E.U. member states.