Agriculture MEP Hails New EU Feed Labelling Rules

05 February 2009
Scotland's only full member of the European Parliament's Agriculture Committee Mr Alyn Smith has today (Thursday) hailed the near unanimous adoption of a new regime on animal feed labelling across the EU as a sensible and workable result for Scotland's farmers and feed producers.

Smith, the only Scot to speak in the debate, praised the rapporteur for the constructive approach in which he has handled this hugely complex dossier, which will see a balance struck between the rights of farmers and consumers to know what ingredients are in animal feed, and the rights of producers to protect their products and intellectual property, crucial to promote innovation in the development of new feeds.

The new rules will:

* Create a Community Catalogue of feed materials, with mandatory requirements to co-regulation involving all responsible stakeholders, though the use and the content of the Catalogue remain voluntary and non-exhaustive;

* Give new rights to information on the composition of compound feed in respect of feed materials, providing the compound feed industry with a reasonable level of legal certainty while ensuring farmers access to the information they need. National authorities have been given enhanced powers to ensure that the system is adequately policed; and

* Give new rights to information on the composition of compound feed in respect of feed additives, while also making the label itself more legible for users.

Speaking after the debate, Smith said:

"The Parliament did a good bit of work today. This might not be the most glamorous of dossiers but it is a real example of the Parliament adding value, and working for consumers, farmers and producers alike.

"It is a sad fact that this regulation is, undoubtedly, necessary. For those who sometimes rail against unnecessary red tape and rules I can only say "BSE" - in the absence of proper regulation and policing things can go wrong and disastrously so. The key is to strike the right balance, and where sometimes of late I do not think the Parliament has managed to, on this dossier I think we have it about right.

"The new rules will give farmers the rights to information they need to have confidence in the food chain, which in turn will reassure consumers; while equally innovation in the feed sector is protected, all the more important as we seek ever more efficient feed, especially in terms of methane reduction."

Mr Smith's speech in the plenary is below:

"Mr President, I will be no exception in offering my congratulations to my group colleague, Friedrich-Wilhelm Graefe zu Baringdorf, who has worked very hard on what must be one of the more technical dossiers we have dealt with. He has also displayed the wisdom of Solomon in striking a balance between the needs of the consumers and the very legitimate needs of manufacturers for the protection of their product and their intellectual property.

"This is what I would call back home one of the more classic European Parliament dossiers. Looking at our guests in the visitors' gallery, it is pretty safe to say that animal feed labelling is probably not one of the most glamorous subjects they could have heard us talking about today, but it is crucially important and it is a real example of where this Parliament adds value, and where we can ensure our consumers', our citizens' and our voters' faith in the food chain of the food they eat.

"It is important to remember where this issue came from. The BSE crisis proved that what we feed our animals needs to be regulated. This Regulation needs to be transparent, and there needs to be a balance struck between consumers' needs and the needs of the manufacturers, but it can go wrong. It has gone wrong in the past and we must ensure it does not go wrong again. This report is crucial in taking that forward.

"I have had numerous meetings with the industry in Scotland, and with consumer groups and the farmers themselves, and there has been pretty well universal support and approval for the way that the Commission and Parliament have taken this forward and particularly for our rapporteur.

"This dossier does add value. It is a good example of Parliament working. We often say that there has been good cooperation between the Commission and Parliament. On this one there really has been, and the fact that there are so few amendments being tabled to this report demonstrates that it will go through with a big majority. The Parliament has had a good day today."