The Agriculture and Fisheries Council meeting, chaired by Minister of Rural Affairs of Estonia Tarmo Tamm, was held on 6 November in Brussels. During the meeting, the Minister stressed that innovation and knowledge dissemination are what help with the sustainable production of food and the better use of soils.
Minister Tamm presented the Presidency’s conclusions on the results of the high-level soil conference held at the beginning of October. “European soils are not in a good condition. This is why we as the Presidency wish to draw attention to the topic of soils and give an input to the shaping of the future Common Agricultural Policy,” Minister Tamm said.
In the conclusions, the Minister pointed out that more results-based measures and solutions should be used in the future Common Agricultural Policy, with the focus being on incentives for the farmers. In order to implement more knowledge-based policies and plan land use on a national, regional and local level, better use of soil data should be encouraged in policy-making and in decisions made on the use of land. We also need to raise awareness on the importance of soils in general and especially in food production. This has to be done at all levels of education, with the assistance of sharing practical experience. “With the help of innovation and knowledge dissemination, we can ensure the sustainable management of soils and thereby provide food security,” Minister Tamm stressed.
The ministers also discussed the report by the European Commission on the sustainable use of pesticides. The ministers found that to achieve the goals of Directive 2009/128/EC on the sustainable use of pesticides, measures directed at the implementation of integrated plant protection systems are most important and yield the best results. Both the need for training for the users of crop protection products and the restrictions on the use of pesticides in non-agricultural areas were also stressed. The need to contribute more to the research and development of low-risk pesticides was pointed out as well. Several ministers emphasised the need for strengthening the agricultural education system in this field and called for a more extensive use of research and development in the sector.
At the meeting, the Commission also gave an overview on the issues related to international agricultural trade. Minister of Rural Affairs Tarmo Tamm emphasised that the Commission should work in close cooperation with the Member States in questions of trade in order to best protect the interests of our agriculture during negotiations. The ministers were also informed on the results of the Bratislava summit on dual quality of foods held on 13 October.
As the last points on the agenda, the Joint Declaration of the Agricultural Ministers of the Visegrad Group, Bulgaria and Romania on the Renewable Energy Directive after 2020 and the Joint Declaration of the Agricultural Ministers of the Visegrad Group, Bulgaria, Croatia, Romania and Slovenia on the Central-Eastern European Initiative for Knowledge-based Agriculture, Aquaculture and Forestry in Bioeconomy (BIOEAST) were discussed.
The Minister of Rural Affairs was accompanied at the Council by the Deputy Secretary General for Food Safety, Research and Development, Toomas Kevvai, the Deputy Secretary General for Agricultural and Rural Life Policies, Marko Gorban, the Deputy Secretary General for Fisheries Policy and Foreign Affairs, Olavi Petron, and the Head of the European Union Affairs Department, Madis Pärtel