EU Farmers Boss: DG Agri ‘Not Properly Consulted’ in Biofuels Talks
by Sarantis Michalopoulos (EURACTIV.com) EU farmers are “quite worried” about the fact that the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Agriculture and Rural Development (DG Agri) is often disregarded when it comes to policy decisions that have a direct impact on the farming community, such as the biofuels debate.
“We are quite worried about the trend that DG Agri has been pushed aside in many agriculture-related questions, such as the future of biofuels,” said Copa-Cogeca Secretary-General Pekka Pesonen.
Copa-Cogeca, the EU farmers’ association, held a conference on 11 June about the ongoing talks for the revision of the Renewable Energy Directive (RED) and particularly about the future of the first-generation biofuels.
For their part, farmers want the EU to maintain at 7% until 2030 the maximum accountable share of crop-based biofuels used in transport. They say that EU crop-based biofuels are crucial in order to meet the EU’s ambitious climate and energy targets and to ensure an environmental-friendly transport sector and vibrant rural areas.
Farmers also stress that crop-based biofuels are important when it comes to animal feed, saying that they have significantly contributed to decreasing the dependence on imports, especially in light of the proposed EU protein strategy.
Pesonen noted that EU farmers can demonstrate “without any doubt” that their production of biofuel commodities, mainly oilseeds and sugar beets, fulfils the minimum requirement of sustainability because they are part of the CAP.
“We are sustainable by definition.”
“This is not the case with the imported palm oil,” he said, referring basically to palm oil from South East Asian countries, such as Malaysia and Indonesia.
He explained that there is absolutely no evidence that the food markets have been distorted because the prices have not increased because of biofuels.
“We have nothing to hide: we are exposed to the CAP regulatory requirements all across. We can cultivate and produce biofuels and we cannot escape them [requirements] because we are dependent on support.”
“What we are looking for is giving farmers a more market-relevant income and an alternative to produce. Especially if we can combine that with agricultural practices that are also awarded by the CAP, such as crop rotation,” Pesonen added.
EU farmers also oppose the so-called double or multiple-counting, which means, for instance, that if advanced biofuel consumption is 2%; it will be counted as 4% of the total energy used in transport. The same applies to green electricity, for which the EU Council has proposed a multiplier of five, meaning that for every two electric cars, ten will be counted in the final analysis.
For Elisabeth Lacoste from the International Confederation of European Beet Growers (C.I.B.E.), using multipliers is a virtual support of this kind of renewable energies that benefits the oil companies and does not really benefit renewable energy.
“For us, the use of multipliers is a trick and virtual support to oil usage,” she said. READ MORE