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Agriculture and Food Industry Jamboree Amongst World’s Biggest

  • January 22nd, 2007
  • Posted by EUA Editor

berlin-ag-resize.jpgEuropean political leaders made it to centre stage at this year’s International Green Week event, the annual show for agriculture and allied industries in Germany – held this time in the nation’s glittering, rebuilt capital.

The presence of Schmitti the green Berlin Bear, mascot of the fair, made it plain that this was an occasion for business and hoopla, not dour politics.

Yet, the declared theme of the nine-day extravaganza, 19-28 January, was the German Presidency of the European Union, and Chancellor Angela Merkel was there for the opening ceremonies, along with the EU Farm Commissioner, Mariann Fischer Boel, and the President of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso.

Small wonder that with close to half the EU annual budget devoted to agriculture, there should be heavy concentration on this great convocation of farmers and other interested parties in their general field, (no puns intended).

Green Week, put on by the Berlin Messe exhibition centre near the elegant Charlottenburg Palace, and the German federal government, usually draws over 440,000 visitors; it has 1600 exhibitors from 56 countries – including some from Australia in the food exports field.

It is billed as the world’s biggest joint event for agriculture and horticulture, the food and drinks industries, including meat production, dairy products, fish, flowers, forestry and landscaping, and this time –drawing much attention from European consumers- an organics Bion Markt sector.

Generally speaking, as the organisers point out, the “green” in the title stands for farm products rather than environmentalism.

On the business and politics side, Green Week is believed to have drawn in 100,000 persons who work i n these sectors, taking part around the margins in 250 conferences, conventions, workshops, press conferences, forums or symposiums.

Heads of the celebrated, in this area of life, EU subsidies machine, would be encountering much lobbying; many outstretched, not to say up-turned palms.

Ms Fischer Boel took the opportunity to re-state objectives for the European Union in the coming year:

Those included sweeping changes in the wine, and fruit and vegetable markets, in the context of the restructuring of the Common Agricultural Policy – including the formation of just one Common Market Organisation for the EU 1.5-billion (A$2.4-billion; Dcerates) fruit and vegetables sector.

The Commissioner may have been influenced by a visit to the German Wine and Sparkling Wines Gallery, one of the great drawcards of the fair along with the beer hall and seafoods displays.

“Our wines are the best in the world”, she said, “yet we are losing ground to the ‘New World’ wine producers”.

She listed also extension of the subsidies program for production of biomass crops, to help with the EU program for greater energy self-sufficiency in the coming decades; and the long-term financial review, the “Health Check”, which could see the beginning of reductions in gross agriculture budgets in the EU.

Reference:

“2007: A Year of Delivery”, EC Brussels, 18.1.07; IP/07/58

International Green Week, http:www1.messe-berlin.de/ (21.1.07)

Picture: Hoopla in Berlin, Schmitti the Bear oversees installation of a lifesize plastic cow; Berlin Messe

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