EU cereal and oilseed yields are down, say Copa & Cogeca

Cereal and grapeseed yields are down across the EU. Pic: ©iStock/jk78

EU wheat and oilseed farmers have been hit hard by uncompromising weather conditions and limitations on plant protection products, resulting in drastically reduced yields.

According to Copa & Cogecas’ Cereals and Oilseeds working parties, this year, EU-28 wheat production is down by 10% and rapeseed by 9.2%, compared to 2015.

Mike Hambly, vice-chair of Copa & Cogeca, said:  “We have seen lower production in most Member States in the EU arable crops sector this year.

“Some regions have been drastically impacted by the extreme weather events, which resulted in poor yields, down by up to 50% in some countries.”

He said France, in particular, was badly hit with a sharp drop of 30% in its wheat production. But this pattern wasn’t the same across the board, and Hungary recorded a good cereals and rapeseed harvest this year.

All EU countries, however, have been “impacted by three years of low price levels below production costs”, added Hambly.

More PPPs needed

In order to ensure a feasible sector in the future, there’s an increasing underlying need for a more sufficient supply of plant protection products (PPPs) to ensure a viable sector in the future.

This came to light as many farmers complained of limitations in the use of PPPs, and particularly the suspension of neonicotinoid seed treatments, which resulted in uncontained attacks of cabbage stem flea beetle hitting rapeseed crops.

“Farmers will not take the risk of sowing rapeseed if they do not have a good supply of PPPs at their disposal,” said Hambly.

“They were also concerned about not being able to use effective PPPs on Ecological Focus Areas (EFAs), especially since these crops provide many environmental benefits, helping to ensure biodiversity and food for the declining bee population,” he warned.

Favourable forecast

While grain prices are down, rapeseed has experienced a price rise in the EU. However, cereal prospects are looking more promising for next year and sowing conditions are considered favorable in some member states.

In fact, Copa & Cogeca estimates EU-28 grain production to rise by 4.2% in 2017, compared to 2016. The Committee of Professional Agricultural Organisations (COPA) and General Committee for Agricultural Cooperation in the European Union (COGECA) also forecast a slight rise of 0.8% in EU-28 oilseeds production.

“How the harvest pans out will depend a lot on climatic conditions and also if farmers have enough PPPs at their disposal to fight pests and diseases,” reiterated Hambly.

The joint-committees have also sent a letter to the EU Commission calling for direct emergency support to counteract the severe cashflow problems being felt by most cereal farmers.

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