October 31, 2016


EU forum adopts solutions to problems ailing sheep meat sector


The fourth and final meeting of the EU sheep-meat forum, which took place in Brussels recently, agreed on a range of policy recommendations as potential responses to the problems and opportunities facing the sector.


Established last year on the initiative of EU Agriculture and Rural DevelopmentCommissioner Phil Hogan, the forum has brought together representatives from the different parts of the chain--production, processing, trading--in order to discuss the current and future challenges of the EU sheep-meat sector.


In his address at the closing meeting, Hogan said, "The Commission will evaluate the forum's recommendations and will also inform ministers in the [European] Council on the outcome of the forum, as there is clearly more that can be done at member state level. The various players in the private sector can also play a greater role. In order to facilitate market monitoring, a newly established sheep-meat dashboard is online from today (October 13), and it will be regularly updated whenever new market data is available. I agree with you that sheep meat deserves special attention within our promotion policy."


Since November 2015 the forum has been held four times. It has been participated in by experts in order to discuss different areas of policy - promotion, trade policy, consumer affairs, environmental and social issues, as well as technology and innovation.


The first one, held on November 12 last year, was devoted to identify perspectives and challenges on economic, social and environmental sustainability of sheep farming. It featured four presentations by independent experts and a general debate among participants.


The second forum last February 25 had three independent experts analysing sheep trade in the EU and different parts of the world. Five representatives of organisations running EU-funded promotion programmes discussed marketing strategies to improve EU sheep-meat uptake.


The third conference on June 29 presented the EU policies applied directly and indirectly to the sheep sector such as market and trade issues, direct support, cross-compliance and sheep identification, rural development, and promotion programmes.


The fourth conference, held last October 13, had two short presentations on EU research programmes and an academic one on sheep as provider of public goods. It focused on finalising the recommendations of the forum, starting from draft recommendations prepared by the chair based on the discussions during the workshops and contributions submitted by the various stakeholders.


The EU sheep flock comprises roughly 85 million head, and annual production is around 710,000 tonnes carcass weight. There is significant sheep-meat production in 13 member states (Bulgaria, Germany, Greece, Spain, France, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Romania, Sweden and the UK).


Find out more details about the conferences, including the different presentations made to each of the meetings, here.

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