French, German farmers urge EU to keep 7 percent biofuel target
At the invitation of Germany’s Union for the Promotion of Oil and Protein Plants (UFOP), representatives of the French federation of the producers of oilseeds and proteins crops (FOP), under leadership of vice chairman Arnaud Rousseau, and representatives of UFOP, under leadership of chairman Wolfgang Vogel, spoke Jan. 25 in Berlin about the crop situation and sectorial issues. FOP and UFOP are the major branch organizations for oilseeds and protein crops in France and Germany.
FOP and UFOP asked for the maintenance of mandatory first-generation biofuels objectives in the EU’s Renewable Energy Directive for 2020-’30. This is a condition to give prospects to farmers and biofuel producers and to approach the ambitious objectives of renewable energy use announced for 2030. For the two organizations, the future development of renewable energies does not have to compromise the existing rapeseed biodiesel industry, which also produces protein meal, but rather this development should take into account its benefits while simultaneously promoting advanced biofuels.
UFOP and FOP focused their meeting in Berlin on the last energy proposals from the European Commission. In its “winter package,” the commission proposed to limit first-generation biofuels from 7 percent in 2020 to 3.8 percent in 2030. In addition, the commission proposed to introduce mandatory objectives for advanced biofuels in the same time it suppressed objectives in transport. The outlets of the oilseeds producers are directly threatened by these proposals. With no objectives in transport, the European Commission proposals could lead to the end of the first-generation sector and will lead to a fall in seed prices and to a retreat of the rapeseed acreage across Europe.
FOP and UFOP dispute the European Commission analysis and draw attention to the consequences for European agriculture. Indeed, the limitation of the first generation will result in a degradation of the already existing European deficit into plant proteins and will have an impact regarding diversity of the rotations. For FOP and UFOP, the European ambition displayed regarding renewable energy must result in the mandatory objective of 7 percent for the first-generation biofuels coproducing protein and feed, a long-term development plan for advanced renewable energies and the fixing of targets for transport. The advanced fuels will indeed not be available at a significant level before several years, their development is at best in progress and their profitability is not proven to date. Also UFOP and FOP stress that the first generation, which is not concurrent food production in Europe, with respect to a high level of sustainability, already exist and is necessary to the realization of ambitious renewable energy objectives, in particular for transport.