The commission wants to assess the effectiveness of policies such as voluntary coupled support (linking farmers’ direct support to production of protein crops in order to stimulate the sector) and ask questions about research-related issues and market information. The aim is to produce a detailed report on the state of play and possible future measures by the end of 2018.
The consultation with stakeholders is likely to be followed by direct consultations with E.U. member states and with industry-level stakeholders such as farmers’ unions or producers’ associations. A series of thematic workshops to further debate actions needed to support E.U. plant proteins production also is expected to be organized, looking at issues such as research and innovation, environmental benefits or supply chain issues.
Plant proteins are an essential component of animal feed (as a source of amino acids for livestock), as well as being widely consumed by humans. But European production of protein crops is not sufficient to cover demand, due in part to the agro-climatic conditions in Europe, which do not favor the widespread cultivation of protein-rich crops such as soybeans, the commission said.
Soybeans can enter the E.U. market tariff-free, which also reduces the cost-effectiveness of local production. A significant proportion of soybean crops grown outside the E.U. are genetically modified, but with European demand for non-GM food and feed remaining high, there is a growing need to stimulate local production.
Industry experts and stakeholders interested in taking the questionnaire can click here.