Speaking in the European Parliament on a debate on the importance of locally produced food, the Ireland East MEP and Member of the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development has called on the European Commission to ensure innovation and entrepreneurship among farmers is fully supported under the future CAP, in particular in relation to supporting local food markets and on-farm businesses.
“There is increasing demand for shorter supply chains and support for sourcing food locally. It is understood that shorter supply chains and a local focus on food production is not the solution for meeting the challenge of feeding 9 billion people by 2050. However, sourcing locally produced food does represent an opportunity for consumers and producers to engage with each other directly and for a greater understanding of the value of our food and the importance of agriculture for rural communities to be understood.”
A criticism of the CAP which the Ireland East MEP has come back to time and time again is that the added value of European agriculture is not fully appreciated further along the food supply chain and to a certain degree by the consumer.
“Local food integrates production, processing, distribution and consumption on a small scale, creating sustainable local economies and a strong connection between farm and table. Local markets, direct engagement with producers and on-farm business leading to shorter distribution channels have the potential to generate greater interaction, understanding and knowledge between consumers and producers. “
Referencing the current CAP negotiations which are underway in the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development, the Ireland East MEP called on the Commission to ensure that innovation is supported and opportunities such as encouraging local production are capitalised on.
“The future CAP must be a policy that welcomes and supports innovation and entrepreneurship among farmers in their locality. Funding programmes such as the Leader Programme must be allowed more flexibility between the axes for funding to be made available for viable local food production enterprises.”
“In my own county of Kilkenny, there are many excellent local food enterprises but they are struggling to get off the ground as the bureaucracy surrounding the European funds put in place at the national and local level is cutting them off from any EU support.”