The president of the EU Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, is facing calls to prioritize agriculture and forestry in her upcoming State of the Union address. Scheduled for Wednesday, September 13, this speech will be von der Leyen’s final address of her term and is expected to outline the main priorities and initiatives for the coming year. The letter, written by Copa and Cogeca, urges von der Leyen to send a strong message to farmers and highlight the importance of agriculture and forestry in the EU’s annual work programme.
Copa president Christiane Lambert and Cogeca president Ramon Armengol expressed their hope for a strong message to be delivered to the farming community. They noted that previous State of the Union addresses have often failed to mention farmers, foresters, and agri-cooperatives, leading to a growing disconnect between Brussels and rural areas. The letter also highlighted the challenges faced by the agricultural sector, including Brexit, inflation, the Covid-19 crisis, and climate change.
In addition, Copa and Cogeca emphasized the need for action on various issues, such as the use of plant protection products, new genomic techniques, animal welfare, sustainable food systems, and negotiations on the restoration of nature and industrial emissions. The organization welcomed the roadmap provided to the executive vice president in charge of the Green Deal, Maroš Šefčovič, which called for increased dialogue with key stakeholders like forest owners and farmers. However, they stressed that concrete actions are now required from EU policy makers.
The letter concluded by emphasizing the importance of ensuring Europe’s food security and strategic autonomy, while also addressing global food insecurity and renewing the generations involved in agriculture and rural areas. Copa and Cogeca called for a commitment to move beyond rhetoric and deliver tangible results.
As von der Leyen prepares to deliver her State of the Union address, all eyes will be on her to see how she addresses the concerns raised by Copa and Cogeca. The agricultural sector plays a vital role in the EU’s economy and food production, and it is crucial that its interests are adequately represented and prioritized in the EU’s policies and initiatives.