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France wants EU agriculture safety nets maintained

France, which will take over the presidency of the European Union in July, wants the bloc to keep its historic market protection tools even if some have not been used this year, Farm Minister Michel Barnier said on Friday.

The EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) includes safety mechanisms, notably the so-called intervention system that guarantee growers a minimum price for their products if they sell to the EU and put them in public silos. “The stabilization of markets needs assistance for storage, export subsidies and public intervention,” Barnier said in an interview with French newspaper Les Echos. “These tools exist. We want to keep them and adapt them, even if we could limit them to crisis periods and turn them into security stocks to avoid the misuses of the past when some production was intended for intervention,” he added.

Some of the EU safety nets, such as intervention or export subsidies, have not been used this season because the high prices of many farm products surged to historic highs boosted by low crop levels, rising global demand and low stocks worldwide, made them unnecessary. But although Barnier believes prices will stay high – maybe not higher but still strong -- he said crises could not be excluded and the existing tools should be maintained. French farmers have expressed concern over the last month that the historic safety tools could be scrapped in the upcoming “health check” of the CAP policy, a series of proposed adjustments to be discussed later this year. (Reuters)