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Hopes For Farm Trade; EU’s Troubled Climate; The BioFuels Future

  • July 27th, 2007
  • Posted by EUEditor

farm-pic-april-07.jpgAgriculture: While Australian interests see some fresh hope in WTO negotiations, farmers in Europe are taking stock of a wild twelve months with the weather – and looking ahead to the biofuels revolution.


The Australian Trade Minister, Warren Truss, says efforts to restart world trade talks have been helped by the release of new negotiating documents on agriculture and industrial products.

He said (18.7.07) the texts from the World Trade Organisation (WTO) for its Doha round talks were prepared despite the failure of an attempt to revive the process, at a meeting last month of the G4 trading powers – Brazil, India, the European Union and the United States; (See EUAustralia, Glum Outlook On World Trade Meeting, 22.6.07).

Initial impressions were positive with some reservations.

“These documents capture important progress that has been made in the negotiations this year, and this includes ideas that have been put forward by Australia and the Cairns Group on a number of issues,” he said.

“The texts contain elements we do not support, such as some of what is being proposed on industrial tariff cuts and state trading enterprises. The agriculture text also still needs work in the key area of agricultural market access so that we can be sure there will be new trade opportunities for Australian farmers.”

Other parts of the Doha negotiations especially on services remained blocked.

A fresh attempt at conducting the negotiations, convened by the Geneva–based WTO, is to commence in September.

The Cairns Group is made up of countries that support more liberalisation of trade with wider access to markets worldwide, especially for agricultural products; it was formed at a conference in Cairns with Australia as a leading member.


Disrupted weather patterns in Europe have upset agricultural production, with the heat waves, drought and excessive rain reflected in mixed results for annual crop yields.

The European Commission has released the yield predictions made by its in-house scientific service, the Joint Research Centre (JRC).

It says its main prediction would be a total cereal harvest for 2007 of 276-million tonnes, 1.6% below the average of the last five years with Central and Eastern Europe losing out the most.

An exceptionally mild winter and hot spring temperatures that boosted crop growth was off-set by intensive rain in the North, and heat waves and drought spells in eastern Europe especially around the Black Sea region.

The wheat yield in Romania is set to be 20.1 % below average; in Bulgaria barley will be down 14.6% and maize by up to 40%. The maize yield in Hungary will be 6.7% lower. Soft wheat yields will be 7.1% lower in the Czech Republic, and 8.9% lower in Slovakia.

Yield forecasts for the 27 European Union countries against the last five-year average:

* soft wheat: (±0%)
* durum wheat (+13.5)
* barley (+3.4%)
* grain maize (-0.8%)
* rape seed (-5.1%)
* sunflower (-3.4%)
* potato (+8.1%)
* sugar beet (+4.2%)

The total land cover in the 27 EU countries used for cereal production in 2007 is estimated to have decreased by 2.3%.


European Commission, EC publishes annual crop yield … IP/07/1159, 24.7.07.

Detailed forecasts, MEMO/07/301, (27.7.07)


The European Commission has published a study (24.7.07) which, it says, shows that bio-energy production is becoming one of the chief mainstream opportunities for its agriculture over the medium to long term.

It says that European Union binding targets for use of biological products in the fuels mix (10% minimum content by 2020), and new technologies would assure sustainability — providing the EU with renewable transport fuels without disrupting domestic food, feed and non-food markets.

The study estimates that imports to Europe will provide around 20 % of biofuel consumption, mainly oilseeds and vegetable oils.

Reference: EC (Agriculture and Rural Development), Economic Analysis and Market Forecasts; The impact of a minimum 10% obligation for biofuel use in the EU-27 in 2020 agriculture markets; 24.7.07, (27.7.07)