The European Commission has published a report exploring the possibilities of adopting a local farming and direct sales labelling scheme in the future, as requested by the current legislation on quality schemes for agricultural products and foodstuffs.
Describing the main features of local farming, short food supply chains and direct sales in the EU, the report and the accompanying Staff Working Document examine the challenges faced by small-scale producers and short food supply chains and present existing policy tools at EU level.
The Commission calls on the European Parliament, the Council, Member States and regions to reflect on whether existing policy tools and measures are appropriate and provide adequate flexibility for this type of farming and sales. Demand for quality, fresh and local food is increasing across the EU, often combined with environmental, climate and social expectations, based on the assumption that local, seasonal and ecologically-sound food chains have the potential to contribute to reducing carbon emissions and food waste.
In a nutshell
- The report and the working document underline that numerous challenges exist for the development of short food supply chains.
- A number of tools at EU level support local farming and short food supply chains, mainly in the framework of the rural development policy. However, their application varies considerably across the regions and the Member States.
- The Commission calls on the Parliament and the Council, Member States and regions to reflect whether existing policy tools and measures are appropriate.
- The Commission also invites for a reflection whether certain EU rules, such as those on hygiene or public procurement provide adequate flexibility for the development of this type of farming and sales.
- Demand for quality, fresh and local food is increasing across the EU. This demand is often combined with environmental, climate and social expectations regarding the food chain.
- Although the environmental benefits of short food supply chains are difficult to assess, food chains which are at the same time local, seasonal and use ecologically-sound production methods are likely to have a positive impact on reduction of carbon emissions and food waste.
- According to the Report, a voluntary labelling scheme could be a helpful additional tool for protecting locally produced food from imitations and for informing consumers about them.
- In order to unlock the full potential of short food supply chains, a labelling scheme would have to be easy to handle for producers and voluntary while at the same time ensure sufficient credibility for consumers.
- Furthermore, such a scheme should take into account differences in the development of short food supply chains across the Member States.
- Because of the specific features of direct sales which already involve a close relation between producers and consumers, the report suggests that restricting a labelling scheme to this particular supply chain would only have limited impact.
Friday December 6, 2013/ EC/ European Union.