GM policy strangling EU livestock and feed industries

FEFAC President demands urgent measures to ensure livestock farmers have adequate access to feed materials
September 25, 2007

GM policy strangling EU livestock and feed industries


FEFAC President, Pedro Corrêa de Barros, has called on the EU Farm Council to take urgent measures to ensure livestock farmers  have adequate access to feed materials.


He welcomed a proposed decision to eliminate set-aside for the new crop season but stressed that this measure is not effective to address the present acute shortage of feed materials for the EU livestock population.


He noted that the only way out to cover current market needs are additional imports of energy-rich feed materials of which the EU needs to import 15-25 million tonnes, according to trade and industry experts. However, access to imports is severely restricted due to the present EU GM policy.


Pedro Corrêa de Barros warned the EU Farm Council that “The current EU GM policy will cripple the EU livestock industry. Livestock producers in third countries will be able to use the GMO crops not yet approved in the EU to feed their animals and will increasingly sell their products of animal origin to EU consumers at a lower price compared with EU operators”.


He stressed that the systematic slowdown of GM approvals in the EU combined with a strict zero-tolerance policy for the presence of non EU-approved events has already resulted in the loss of four million tonnes of CGF (Corn Gluten Feed) and DDGS (Dried Distillers Grains with Solubles) that the EU imported for years from the US. CGF and DDGS are staple feeds mainly for cattle in the “Atlantic” EU countries (Ireland, Portugal, the Netherlands, Spain and the UK). Their substitution has artificially inflated feed prices in the EU by €2-3 billion, out of a total cost increase for compound feed of €10 billion since last year, due to higher world prices for cereals.


Further massive feed price increases in the EU, which livestock farmers may not be able to recover from consumers, must be expected in the new marketing year, if traces of newly authorized GM events in export countries appear in the supply of soybean meal to the EU, before they obtain full EU approval.


Corrêa de Barros asked Farm Ministers “to take their political responsibility to avoid strangling the EU livestock industry”. It is the EU Farm Ministers’ duty to maintain EU’s feed and food security by accelerating the EU GM approval process while setting a workable threshold for technically unavoidable presence of GM crops which have been approved in exporting countries but are pending approval in the EU at the time of import of feed grains.


The planned EU CAP health check can meet its objective of market-orientation and competitiveness only if the EU livestock sector is on a level playing field with third countries operators, which is also in the interest of their main suppliers, the EU grain producers.

FEFAC, the European Compound Feed Manufacturers’ Federation, represents 21 national Associations in 20 EU Member States as well as Associations in Switzerland, Turkey and Norway with observer/associate member status. The European compound feed industry employs over 100,000 persons on approximately 4,000 production sites.


Farm animals in the EU-27 consume an estimated 470 million tonnes of feed a year, of which 144 million tonnes are produced by the compound feed manufacturers. Turnover of the European compound feed industry is estimated at € 37 billion.


The EU imports 35 million tonnes of soybean meal annually, or approximately 75% of its vegetable protein requirements, with no viable alternative available. Feed costs account for 60-80% of the production cost of pig and poultry.


DG AGRI published last summer a study concluding for the poultry sector that the impact of asynchronous authorization of GM soy events under the worst case scenario would be severe, as poultry production would fall to 29% and 44% below the baseline level in 2009 and 2010 respectively. A sharp increase in the EU price would attract high imports and EU exports would disappear. EU consumption would drop to 16% and 26% below the baseline level in 2009 and 2010 respectively.