Brussels Plans Visibility Boost for Farmers Who Sell Locally

EU - Around 15 per cent of farms sell more than half of their produce locally, according to a report published last week by the European Commission's agriculture department.
calendar icon 10 December 2013
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Consequently, the Commission is keen to investigate the feasibility of a special labelling scheme to make these farm products more visible to shoppers.

But there is an uneven development of short food-supply chains across the European Union. According to research, only 0.5 per cent of Irish farms are engaged in direct sales, compared to over 34 per cent in Italy.

As an alternative to a stand-alone certification scheme, the report ponders the idea of a new quality term under the new European Union Quality Regulation, to add value to farm products.

The use of an optional quality term would be an effective tool for farmers to communicate the value they have added to products and ensure a reward for those additional efforts, according to the report.

The scheme would not require a logo or a symbol, only specific wording and would be, in Brussels-speak, a "light instrument" with a relatively low administrative, control and budgetary burden.

But at the same time it would provide protection against misuse, fraud and misleading practices. An optional quality term would also open the door to other European Union support measures, particularly those under rural development.

The report will be presented to farm ministers when they meet in Brussels on 16 December and discussions with the European Parliament are expected to start early next year.

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