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Brussels - 19 March 2019
At a crucial turning point regarding the sustainability of sugar beet growing and in an unprecedented EU sugar market crisis, with sugar and beet prices at record lows, CIBE President Eric Lainé highlighted at today’s High Level Group on Sugar the 3 major challenges that sugar beet growers have to face: productivity & competitiveness, resilience and adjustment to markets. CIBE urges the EU Institutions to take concrete action so as to:
• Support sustainability progress in beet growing, in particular with regards to plant protection products, with environmental & economic impact assessments, risk-based decisions with appropriate timing and accompanying measures in terms of innovation and research & development;
• Set-up, as a matter of urgency, workable risk management tools (for example the Income Stabilisation Tool) and safety nets (for example sugar to ethanol scheme and supply control scheme) for sugar beet growers to manage highly volatile markets and market crises;
• Strengthen the position of sugar beet growers’ organizations in the supply chain;
• Further improve transparency on the sugar and high sugar content products markets as well as on isoglucose and ethanol markets;
• Oppose further market access concessions and stop third countries from dumping sugar on world markets.
CIBE President Eric Lainé stated: “European beet growers deplore the time lost and the wait and see strategy of the EU Institutions; we can only observe the major damage of these two years without quotas on our sector. Such a waste! What a destruction of value for our farms and our industry! Today the sector is planning to close factories in competitive regions, forced to decide hastily, to put pressure on sugar beet growers, whilst we should build on our strengths to maintain this sector of excellence”. Furthermore, the recent decisions regarding the toolbox for plant protection and the lack of availability of sustainable alternatives put at risk the investments of the past decade and the ability of the sector to attract further investments. “It is time to act based on reason rather than on ideology, to be pragmatic and to look forward so as to be able to further attract innovation as well as young beet growers to our sector” added CIBE President Eric Lainé.
Press Release - Contact: Elisabeth Lacoste, Director, International Confederation of European Beet Growers (CIBE)
Brussels - 19 September 2018
One year following the end of the quota regime, with world and EU sugar prices having reached historically low levels this summer, well below the reference threshold and the cost of production in the EU, the beet sugar sector in the EU continues to experience severe turbulences. Furthermore, over-restrictive decisions on the use of plant protection products and new breeding techniques are strongly affecting European growers who have always been at the forefront of innovation and implementation of sustainable practices. Taking stock of this adverse situation, European growers call for urgent actions and for a stop to the “wait-and-see policy” of the EU Institutions. Indeed, the current severe crisis endangers the farms’ financial stability and the resilience of the EU beet sugar sector. The only winner of the reform are the sugar-using food and beverage industries, to whom around €1.5 billion value was transferred at the expense of farming families within one year.
• The move of the EU beet sugar sector from a net importer to a net exporter has significantly changed the price structure in the EU. But with production and exports (around 3. 2 Mt in MY2017/18) well behind those from Brazil, India and Thailand, the EU beet sugar sector is not a price maker. World fundamentals, positions of speculators and third countries dumping subsidised sugar on the world market are the cause of price fluctuations and the current collapse of sugar prices (minus 26% in the EU since September 2017).
• The necessary reactions by EU growers to market drivers are being limited and delayed by rigidity, low transparency of contractual framework and the weakening position of beet growers. EU beet sugar production in 2018/19 is expected to decrease, not because of significant beet area decrease but because of severe difficult climatic conditions this summer and poor yields in many regions, amplifying the very bad financial results of farms growing beet. CIBE’s first estimate for 2018/19 shows a decrease of EU production by around 2.4 Mt.
• The recent EU decisions against the use of plant protection products in pelleted beet seed and against the use of new breeding techniques further jeopardize the current and future competitiveness of the sector vis-à-vis third countries.
• The resilience of the EU beet sugar sector is put at risk because of the absence of appropriate safety nets and risk management tools and because of the impossibility for growers to hedge their margin and income.
To maintain sustainable beet growing in the EU, vibrant rural communities and high-quality products as aimed for by the EU Institutions, CIBE calls for:
1- Further progress in the clarity of the sugar beet contractual framework: CIBE calls for more transparency in establishing beet contracts, prices, indicators, value sharing clauses, possibility for growers to hedge on markets and a ban on unfair trading practices.
2- Access to efficient risk management tools: CIBE calls for the available “toolbox” for farmers to be adapted to deal with the inevitable climatic risks and higher volatility of prices, margins and revenues. For example, the introduction of the Income Stabilisation Tool in the beet sugar sector should be rapidly envisaged and supported by the EU and the Member States. The implementation of adequate safety net in the next CAP 2021-2027 must also materialize: indeed, the current tools (aid for private storage, CMO provision in case of market imbalances) are not workable to limit the collapse of beet growers’ income.
3- Time and financial support to respond to the ban on plant protection products and to develop alternative sustainable products and practices are crucial.
4- A level playing field with third countries: CIBE calls for a stop to granting market access concessions and to put pressure on countries dumping subsidised sugar on the world market. EU growers are the most sustainable and efficient growers in the world but they cannot compete against competitors which can use plant protection products banned in the EU, they cannot compete with Brazilian currency depreciation, they cannot compete with the export subsidies implemented by some countries.
Press Release - Contact: Elisabeth Lacoste, Director, International Confederation of European Beet Growers (CIBE)
CIBE-CEFS-EFFAT JOINT LETTER
TRADE FOR ALL: THE EU-MERCOSUR NEGOTIATIONS
Brussels - 4 June 2018
Dear President Juncker,
Representing European sugar manufacturers, sugar beet growers, and employees respectively, CEFS, CIBE and EFFAT are watching with concern the ongoing EU-Mercosur trade negotiations.
We would like to recall the theme of the Commission’s current trade strategy, which is ‘trade for all’. We recognise the importance of opening overseas markets for EU products. But the EU’s trade policy must work for everyone: defensive as well as offensive sectors, agriculture as well as industry.
The EU beet sugar sector has been neglected by trade policy in recent years, and used as a bargaining chip in negotiations. Over the past five years bilateral access to the EU sugar market has increased almost threefold, and now totals over 700,000 tonnes. WTO (CXL) access has also increased, to almost 800,000 tonnes.
These agreements were concluded well after the 2006 decision to abolish sugar quotas, which has transformed the EU from a net importer to a net exporter. We are now faced with a situation where market access for third countries well exceeds market requirements. These requirements will incidentally fall substantially with Brexit.
EU sugar beet growers and processors are suffering despite having engaged in drastic restructuring to increase their competitiveness and sustainability. Our sector is currently enduring an unprecedented period of hardship. Sugar prices are well below the EU reference threshold – the benchmark for the health of the sector – and insufficient to cover the costs of even the most efficient EU producers. Recent and potentially-forthcoming decisions to ban plant protection products will damage the competitiveness of the sector vis-à-vis third countries and undermine good environmental practices.
This adverse context will have consequences for the rural communities that are sustained by sugar beet cultivation and processing. The sugar sector provides a sustainable income for 140,000 farmers across the EU, as well as high-quality, industrial, remunerative employment in regions where few alternatives exist.
We implore the European Commission, European Parliament, and Member States to listen to the EU sugar sector and to defensive interests in general and to resist unreasonable demands from the Mercosur countries. The EU-Mercosur agreement will shape the perception of the EU of a generation of EU farmers and primary food processors. If the EU’s trade policy fails to work for everyone, the European project, of which EU farmers have so far been supporters, will suffer.
Johann Marihart, President European Association of Sugar Manufacturers (CEFS)
Eric Lainé President International Confederation of European Beet Growers (CIBE)
Harald Wiedenhofer, Secretary General European Federation of Food, Agriculture and Tourism Trade Unions (EFFAT)
EU BIOFUEL CHAIN OUTREACH TO COUNCIL
ON INCLUSION OF 7% CONVENTIONAL BIOFUELS IN BLENDING OBLIGATIONS ON FOSSIL FUEL SUPPLIERS
CIBE CONGRESS RESOLUTIONS: XLV CIBE Congress - 16-18 May 2018
CIBE PRESS RELEASE:
EUROPEAN SUGAR BEET GROWERS DEEPLY CONCERNED BY GLOOMY OUTLOOK
Ghent - 17 May 2018 - European Beet Growers held their 45th Congress in Ghent from 16th to 18th May 2018. They examined the main economic and political issues currently facing beet growing in Europe and the situation of the world sugar economy, with a special focus on the current market crisis. High level speakers, including Belgium’s Federal Minister for Independents and Agriculture Denis Ducarme, representatives of the European Commission and Secretary General of Copa-Cogeca Pekka Pesonen, participated in this event which gathered around 250 delegates and guests.
“European Beet Growers are extremely worried, all their fears expressed at our previous congress in 2015 are materializing. The collapse in world market prices which reached a six-year low recently, undermined this first year without quotas when EU production has been liberalised. The EU average sugar market price dropped as well and is currently at its lowest level ever, well below the sugar reference threshold. This is of course impacting beet prices and beet income all over Europe. Beet growers will have to face their lowest income to date. This is also the consequence of a weakened position vis-à-vis beet processors. If you add to this the incomprehensible recent decision by the EU Commission to ban neonics in pelleted beet seed, without even a phasing-out, it is too much” emphasised newly elected CIBE President Eric Lainé.
One session of the Congress was dedicated to new developments in the protection of beet and in new beet varieties. Innovation and precision farming in beet growing, harvesting and delivering were addressed. “Beet growers have always been at the forefront of innovation and good practices. But you need to be profitable to further invest in these developments. The situation of beet growers and arable farmers in general is very difficult now and in fact our previous investments are jeopardized” stated Eric Lainé.
Discussions also focused on the perspective on world markets, on market transparency, on the contractual framework and value-sharing clauses between growers and processors as well as on consequences of increased campaign length and risk management tools. President Eric Lainé stressed: “On all these topics, the situation has fallen far short of expectations. We welcome the results of the Omnibus Regulation but the urgent need for EU legislators to strengthen the role of farmers along the supply chain and to make farmers more resilient should now be addressed; appropriate tools of which risk management tools, need to be put in place in our beet growing countries. With ever stricter standards and more opening up of the EU market, and increasingly less level playing field on the world market and ever lower ambition in the development of EU bioethanol, without protection of our revenue and risk management tools such a situation is not sustainable. We fear very negative and irreversible developments”.
European beet growers called on the EU Institutions and the Member States to support concrete measures to manage and mitigate this strongly adverse context, to improve the position of beet growers and to improve the resilience of the sector, including: a prohibition of unfair trading practices, enhanced market transparency, implementation of risk management tools and introduction of financial support for research and development to maintain the highest level of sustainability in beet growing.
The full CIBE Congress resolutions adopted by its Board of Directors and presented by the CIBE President in his closing speech of the Congress are available on www.cibe-europe.eu.
CIBE, COPA-COGECA, EOA, EPURE AND CEPM JOINT LETTER:
TRILOGUE NEGOTIATIONS ON THE RECAST OF THE EU DIRECTIVE ON THE PROMOTION OF RENEWABLE ENERGY SOURCES
JOINT PRESS RELEASE CIBE-CEFS:
THE EU SUGAR MARKET SITUATION: AN UNPRECEDENTED PRICE DECLINE
Brussels - 9 May 2018 - At 372 EUR/tonne in February 2018, the EU average white sugar price is currently at its lowest level since the establishment of the European Commission Price Reporting System in July 2006, and down by more than 25 per cent since August 2017. It is almost ten per cent below the white sugar reference threshold, the only objective benchmark that exists to monitor the health of the sector. And it is far below EU average production costs.
Current sugar prices are not sustainable for beet and sugar production. This is confirmed by press reports that even the most competitive producers are sustaining heavy losses (1).
Unfortunately, calls from the European Commission for the sector to regulate itself take no account of market realities.
- Sugar production is up by logic: relative high world market prices at the end of 2016 and the abolition of quotas led to higher production. Higher production also allows for a greater distribution of fixed costs, increasing operators’ competitiveness in a more liberal environment characterised by increased competition.
- Meanwhile, low world market prices are dragging down the EU market. Sugar exports, while greater than under the quota system, are restricted by current world market price levels, debasing a major outlet. Substantial zero- and reduced-tariff import quotas set up since 2013, along with complete market opening to the ACP/LDC, prevents the gap between EU prices and world prices from exceeding 100 EUR/tonne for any sustained period. But world market prices do not reflect economic realities: as a residual dump market, world sugar prices are depressed in large part by subsidised production and exports from Brazil, Thailand, Pakistan, and India, and by excess production pushed onto the world market by a host of smaller players that is often sold at below cost.
If the gap between current EU prices and those until September 2017 remains at the present level, the net transfer of wealth from the sugar sector (farmers and industry) to secondary processors and retailers will be at least 2 billion EUR by the end of 2018.
We urge the European Commission and Member States to take account of the escalating crisis in the sector, and to consider ways to minimise the ongoing and potentially irreversible damage to farmers, workers, and sugar manufacturers.
(1) Reuters. 3 April 2018. EU sugar companies struggle to survive as prices plunge post-quotas.
JOINT PRESS RELEASE CIBE-CEFS:
BLANKET BAN ON NEONICOTINOIDS: A SEVERE BLOW WITH HUGE CONSEQUENCES FOR EUROPEAN SUGAR BEET GROWERS AND PROCESSORS
Brussels - 27 April 2018 - The vote today at the SCoPAFF to ban neonicotinoids, including in pelleted beet seed, is a severe blow for sugar beet growers and for the sustainability of the EU beet sugar sector. It is not a science-based decision as far as sugar beet is concerned. It is highly regrettable that a majority of Member States have ignored the data gaps in the EFSA assessment and the recent evidence put forward. As a result, both the environment and the farming community will be negatively affected.
There is no justification for banning the use of neonicotinoid seed treatments in sugar beet growing because of environmental concerns. The current use of such seed treatments in sugar beet is safe and represents a very low risk to non-target organisms, including pollinators. Moreover, the EFSA risk assessment assumes that all crops succeeding sugar beet are attractive to bees, while in practice across Europe 90 per cent of crops succeeding sugar beet are cereals, which are not attractive to pollinators.
Deprived of the use of neonicotinoids in pelleted beet seed, which constitutes a significant improvement in sustainability and efficiency, EU beet growers will be forced to resort to far less sustainable practices to control pests, i.e. several post-emergence spray treatments that are more harmful to pollinators and to the biodiversity. There is currently no sustainable alternative for EU beet growers: the spray treatments that will replace neonicotinoids in pelleted beet seed are less environmentally sustainable, more cost-intensive and less efficient. Not all growers will be able to afford the additional costs and high risk of crop failure resulting from this ban, and many will be forced out of the sector.
The irony of the situation is that it will be those growers who pay the most attention to good environmental practices who will be most affected. The ban will therefore go against and jeopardise a decade of investments designed to improve the good practices and sustainability of the EU beet sugar sector. Furthermore, this decision goes against the logic of competitiveness that has oriented the CAP reforms. As the EU sugar market is largely and increasingly open to imports from third countries, the only winners from this vote will be third country sugar producers, which benefit from much weaker environmental and social standards.
In an unprecedented EU market situation, with sugar and beet prices at record low levels, this ban will have immediate and long lasting negative consequences. CIBE and CEFS urge Member States and the European Commission to remain accountable for this decision and to work with the EU beet sugar sector to at least put in place accompanying measures, such as research and development support, to help mitigate as much as possible these negative consequences and maintain the highest level of sustainability achieved by the sector so far.
PRESS RELEASE: CIBE URGES MEMBER STATES AND COMMISSION TO ACT RESPONSIBLY AND WITH COMMON SENSE
Brussels - 23 April 2018 - With its proposal to ban neonicotinoids, including in pelleted beet seed, DG-SANTE, followed by some Member States, deliberately ignore data gaps in the European Food Safety Authority’s (EFSA) impact assessments as well as recent evidence with regards to sugar beet. European Beet growers repeatedly presented their case based on sound analysis and facts.
Commissioner for Agriculture Phil Hogan said also publicly that he “would be in strong support for a derogation. The science and all of the studies that have been carried out actually favor a derogation for sugar beet,” Phil Hogan told POLITICO in an interview at the Forum for the Future of Agriculture in Brussels. “But,” he conceded, “it’s a difficult issue. It’s gone through a lot of hoops in terms of science and politics.” Indeed, for political reasons and fear of public opinion, a ban of neonicotinoids in pelleted beet seed could be adopted by the Scientific Committee for Plants, Animals, Food and Feed Committee on 27th April.
Such a ban would be a severe blow for beet growers. Contrary to DG SANTE’s claim, they would be forced to go back over 20 years and to resort to far less sustainable practices to control pests: i.e. massive and cost-intensive spray treatments more harmful to pollinators, including bees. But not all growers will be able to afford additional costs and high risk of crop failure. It would therefore be extremely damaging for the sustainability of the beet sugar industry. Most investments made during the past decade would be undermined at a time of extreme difficulties for the sector.
The irony of the situation is that it would be precisely among the most competitive countries, where growers pay great attention to implement the best good practices in particular for pollinators that would be most affected. The irony of the situation is also that sugar produced in third countries with massive applications of pesticides and genetic modification would land on European consumers’ table. Who would be accountable for this mess? Who would be ready to support financially European growers and family farms affected?
CIBE strongly call for responsibility and common sense to prevail and urge Member States and DG-SANTE to:
- ask EFSA for further impact assessments with regards to sugar beet so as to respond to data gaps, notably as regards the succeeding crops scenario;
- amend, on the basis of the risk-benefit analysis of the use of neonicotinoids in pelleted beet seed by French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health & Safety (ANSES) and of the case for neonicotinoid in pelleted sugar beet seed put forward by CIBE, the proposals for the Commission Implementing Regulations as regards clothianidin, imidacloprid and thiamethoxam and propose a derogation for sugar beet pelleted beet seed until sustainable alternatives become available for beet growers.