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Policy areas

Green Deal, Food supply chain & CAP

With the new European Green Deal food production, land and forest management have been put in a spotlight as key areas to contribute to its achievement. Farmers and their cooperatives therefore are the key actors and partners in ensuring its implementation on the ground. The Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) is one of key policy areas to deliver on this and it remains the highest priority for Copa-Cogeca. CAP is the backbone of agriculture in the EU and one of the main reasons behind its sustainability and competitiveness. Direct payments (the first pillar) together with the rural development policy (the second pillar) support farmers, forest owners and their cooperatives in the production of safe, high-quality and nutritious food for consumers. The CAP also helps farmers to sustainably manage natural resources, protect the environment and contribute to tackling climate change. Guaranteeing fairness throughout the food supply chain is one of our specific focuses. We aim to ensure efficient value chains and the competitiveness of the sector. Together with our members, we actively provide decision-makers with relevant first-hand information ‘from the ground’ on these important topics. We inform them about farmers’ and cooperatives’ needs and how they contribute to the CAP, as well as about the functioning of the food supply chain and farmers’ position within it. Above all, we push for a common and simpler CAP together with a fairer, more balanced and transparent food supply chain.

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Livestock, Fish & Crops Productions

Copa-Cogeca and its members carefully follow the commodities markets on a daily basis. We keep abreast of current and future discussions on legislation impacting a wide range of commodities, such as livestock products (beef, pork, poultry, horses, sheep meat, fish, honey, eggs and milk), olive oil, wine, hops and spirits as well as arable crops and horticultural produce like fruit, vegetables and flowers. Given that the production of these commodities is subject to many different production factors (plant protection products, fertilisers, machinery, etc.), together with all our members, we play an active role in finding solutions to improve farming methods. Facilitating the flow of information about the different commodities from the ground to the decision makers in Brussels is key to ensuring a correct functioning of the markets and when necessary adequate interventions and actions to assist farmers and agri-cooperatives.

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Feed & Food

As the first producers of food, farmers play a crucial role in ensuring the availability of high-quality, nutritious and affordable food for consumers. Food safety is a key priority of Copa-Cogeca members. We keep a close eye on all developments relating to food and feed safety to ensure that the products our members place on the market meet EU food safety standards. Decisions in regards need to be science-based and the regulatory framework must promote innovation in order to continue to ensure a sustainable, modern and competitive EU agricultural sector. That is why, as one of the key stakeholders in the food supply chain, we carefully follow and participate in the work of EFSA and DG SANTE. Agricultural products are an essential source of different nutrients required for good health. Nutrition and actions to promote a balanced diet are therefore also among our priorities. In this respect, the EU agricultural promotion policy is an effective tool to raise awareness of EU agriculture and of the high quality of EU products. We believe that the richness of the EU’s culinary heritage must be celebrated and safeguarded.

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Plant/Animal health & Welfare

Ensuring safe, healthy and nutritious food and a good management of natural resources is key for European farmers and agri-cooperatives. Plant and animal health and welfare are therefore key aspects in agriculture production, regulated by European legislation. Copa-Cogeca together with its members have always contributed to the development of this legislation and have been the promoter of European high standards in regards. Plant health is a key aspects for European crops producers (cereal, fruit and vegetables, wine etc.), allowing them to employ product and methods that prevent the loos of their crops due to pest and disease that often affect these productions. Equally the aspects of animal health and welfare are key for livestock producers (both dairy and meat) as they ensure that animals stay healthy and well feed and that allow them to prevent associated diseases and cure the animals when needed. Farmers need access to a well-equipped toolbox (including methods, products and technology) to help them manage their production in a sustainable manner, guaranteeing food safety and food security. For Copa-Cogeca and its members it is key that all decision making in this area is based on solid scientific findings. This is why Copa-Cogeca also maintains a close contact and as a stakeholder contributes to the work of European agencies and authorities, such as EFSA, ECDC etc.

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Agri-Cooperatives

European agri-cooperatives are a key actor in the European agri-food and forestry sectors. More than 22 thousands agri-cooperatives count 7 million memberships. Farmer-members and forest-owners directly own and control these cooperative enterprises, which are created to satisfy, with value-added activities and economy of scale, their market, social and environmental needs. Cogeca and its dedicated coordination committee ensure that the role of agri-cooperatives and their contribution to the achievement of a more competitive and sustainable European agriculture is recognised and enhanced. The representatives of European agri-cooperatives contribute to the work of Copa-Cogeca Working Parties in both commodities and horizontal issues with a specific focus on certain cooperative aspects that require special dedication and acknowledgment. Moreover Cogeca also is a platform for exchanges among members on critical strategic developments. Thanks to the Cogeca Presidency Business Fora, cooperative representatives exchange on and share sectorial and horizontal business strategies. As innovation is a key driver to deliver economic, social and environmental value to agri-cooperatives’ members, Cogeca also celebrates the best agri-cooperatives innovations on a triannual basis, with its dedicated European Award for Coooperative Innovation.

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Environment & climate

Ensuring environmental sustainability and building resilience to climate change is a major priority for Copa-Cogeca members. Together, we work to improve land management and adapt farming practices in order to better protect biodiversity and the environment and contribute to the European Green Deal. By reducing emissions and increasing removals, we also aim to improve the carbon balance of agriculture production. Extreme weather events (droughts, storms and floods) are putting farmers under pressure and negatively affect the ecosystems farmers depend on to produce high-quality and nutritious food for the rapidly growing global population. We believe that agriculture and forestry have a central role to play in climate change mitigation: both sectors are already working hard to improve resource efficiency, all the while maintaining food production in the face of a changing climate and fierce international competition. Copa-Cogeca and its members are therefore investing more resources into tackling such issues, trough exchange of best practices at EU level, research and innovation and cooperation with other stakeholders.

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Production methods

When producing agriculture commodities, whether for food or other purposes a lot of different production methods are used. At Copa-Cogeca we support and represent a wide variety of production methods and producers. During the past decades and certainly with a growing attention in recent years Copa-Cogeca has closely followed and participated in the development of legislation on organic production, as well as the developments of new breeding techniques. Representing a large number of organic producers, whether in livestock or crops production Copa-Cogeca and its Organic Working party, together with Working Parties concerning different commodities and those concerning more horizontal issues such as plant protection or animal welfare has created a coherent and coordinated approach to allow its members to follow the developments in different areas and evaluate the impact and opportunities of different policies and legislations, in order to assist our farmers in their production and decision making.

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Bioeconomy, Renewable Energy & Forestry

European farmers and foresters play a key role in further bioeconomy and renewable energy development and good forest management. Forestry is an integral part of EU’s agriculture and rural development policies and of the European economy and society as a whole. With forests and other wooded land covering around 43% of EU land area (Eurostat, 2016), forests are the green lungs of Europe, transforming CO2 into oxygen, maintaining biodiversity, whilst producing wood, cork, fruit and mushrooms. Forest biomass is an important source of renewable raw materials, contributing to the transition to a more circular economy. Forests also plays a vital role in fostering the bioeconomy and achieving EU’s Green Deal. Forestry and agriculture are key to the sustainable management of natural resources and to ensuring growth and employment in rural areas. Together with our members, we work to promote sustainable forest management and the multifunctional role of forests. These forests form the basis of multiple products and provide important economic, environmental and cultural benefits. Together with our members we also work on enhancing production and use of renewable energy on the farm, by exploring new opportunities and tackling barriers.

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Innovation, research & technology

EU farmers and agri-cooperatives believe that investments in innovation, research and technology supported by robust AKIS (Agriculture Knowledge and Innovation Systems) are essential to improving and modernising the agriculture and forestry sectors. Together with our members, we keep track of EU developments in the innovation and research agenda, in digitalisation and of all initiatives linked specifically to the farming sector, such as Smart Villages. We promote a proactive approach, aiming to make our sector one of the forerunners in the data-driven economy and in developing new technologies for better resource efficiency. Farmers and cooperatives should be the key partners in agriculture-related research. That is why we support our members to participate in EU-funded projects in which we also take part.

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Economic, legal & social analysis

In collaboration with its members, Copa-Cogeca follows the latest economic trends in the agricultural sector, focusing particularly on the evolution of agricultural prices. We deliver analysis based on the most recent data available on the agricultural sector and on direct payments. Every year, we gather data and publish the EU agricultural barometer, a confidence survey among EU farmers. We bring together all figures relevant to EU agriculture (number of farmers, type of farms, gender, age, statistics on all commodities, etc.). These statistics support our policy lines and showcase our representativeness. Along with our members, Copa-Cogeca works vigorously on all social and employment issues relating to agriculture. Whether through the work of the Geopa (Copa's employers' group) or other Working Parties and Committees, we proactively strive to improve the wellbeing and working conditions of all those actively involved in agricultural production in the EU. We also take great interest in all tax and legal questions that might concern its members, as well as in competition policy, including aspects relating to state aid.

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International aspects

European farmers and agri-cooperatives operate on international markets, and their high-quality produce is appreciated worldwide. At Copa-Cogeca, along with our members, we closely follow and contribute to the negotiation and implementation of bilateral and multilateral free trade deals and the promotion of European products abroad. We also greatly encourage and promote the contribution of our members to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. We collaborate closely with the World Farmers’ Organisation, and participate actively in the work of international organisations (the OECD, UN and WTO) and in meeting the commitments of the Paris Agreement. In an increasingly more globalised markets, for Copa-Cogeca and its members it is key to ensure fair and balanced trade and a competitive position of European agriculture.

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Women in agriculture

Gender equality and women empowerment are important in the agriculture sector and Copa-Cogeca together with its members works on this issue through its long-standing Women’s Committee. The Committee, which gather women farmer leaders from across the EU is dedicated in ensuring a better position for women in agriculture, full recognition of their contribution on the farm and their role in driving European farming forward. Women are great innovators as well and in the farming sector there is no difference, this is why the Women’s Committee pride project is the bi-annual European Women Farmers Innovation Award, celebrating women farmers and their innovations towards a more sustainable farming.

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