New opportunities for European cooperatives

19 May 2009

‘Cooperatives are confident that they can support farmers and market gardeners in these difficult economic times,’ Gert van Dijk, chairman of Cogeca, the European cooperatives umbrella organisation, said at a recent meeting in Brussels between the heads of European agricultural cooperatives and universities.

Producers of milk, beef, pork and olive oil in particular are currently experiencing a severe dip in revenue. Yet despite this, Cogeca is not pessimistic. Van Dijk: ‘The farmers and their cooperatives are constantly investing and innovating to secure a good position in the chain. And that’s vital, since the markets for agricultural produce are becoming increasingly global.’
Mr van Dijk added that the quality of the food produced in Europe was very high. Products met the most rigorous food safety, animal welfare and environmental standards. European agriculture was also able to respond flexibly to specific consumer wishes.

Role of cooperatives in strengthening the position of farmers and market gardeners
Cogeca hopes that European politicians will give greater recognition to the role that cooperatives can play in strengthening the position of farmers and market gardeners in the chain linking producers and consumers. Cogeca is working to promote a more balanced relationship between the various links in this chain (producers, processing industry and supermarkets). A strong position for farmers and market gardeners is crucial for ensuring food security within Europe and for maintaining biodiversity throughout the EU. According to Cogeca, cooperatives must therefore be given the opportunity to support farmers. Only in this way can the vitality of the European rural economy be maintained.