A call to include measures promoting farm co-ops in the future Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) was heard by the European Parliament Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development.
The committee held a public hearing to discuss the challenges faced by the dairy sector – and heard how co-operatives empower farmers.
The event, ‘Models of co-operation to strengthen farmers’ position in the food chain’, heard from farmers, agri-co-operatives’ representatives and academics, who showed how co-ops increase farmers’ bargaining power and ability to address market and future trade challenges.
Case studies presented included Mila Co-operative in the northern Italian alpine region of South Tyrol, demonstrating the value of co-ops to farmers in remote and disadvantaged areas.
The case of the Pomograna Co-operative in south Italy showed how co-operation tackles the challenges of agriculture in the region, and the advantages created by agri-coops to benefit the overall sector, farmers and consumers.
Speakers stressed the fundamental importance to promote farmers’ co-operation with impactful measures which need to be included in the future Common Agricultural Policy.
Umberto Di Pasquo, senior policy advisor at European agri-co-operatives and farmers apex body Copa-Cogeca, said: “Since their establishment, agri-co-ops’ core mission has always been to pool farmers’ resources and support them in specific activities. They may also supply their members with inputs for agricultural production, as well as food processing, transportation, packaging, distribution, and marketing.
“During this public hearing, we heard about the difficulties, but also the dreams and ambitions of farmers who, every day, experience the burdens deriving from the urban-rural divide. However, we have undoubtedly continued learning about how agri-co-operatives, in many respects, are capable of empowering farmer members by providing them with essential services and innovative tools to thrive in a circular, resilient and innovative agricultural economy.”