FEFAC President Asbjørn Børsting and Nevedi Board member Bastiaan van Tilburg opened the conference. FEFAC President Asbjørn Børsting: “On the global markets, we have now a very difficult situation following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, effectively cutting off the Black Sea region as a major global grain and oilseed exporter. However, FEFAC members remain fully committed to delivering on our commitments to sustainable food systems as part of our Feed Sustainability Charter 2030”. Nevedi Board member Bastiaan van Tilburg: “The Dutch feed industry will continue to invest in new innovative, climate-smart animal nutrition solutions. This will allow our farmer customers in and outside The Netherlands to meet the new societal objectives for a more sustainable and animal welfare-friendly livestock and aquaculture sector”.

Keynote speech DG AGRI Director General Wolfgang Burtscher

DG AGRI Director General Wolfgang Burtscher gave the keynote speech, presenting the range of crisis measures that the European Commission developed recently in support of assuring food and feed security in Ukraine, the EU and at a global level. He referred to the recent decision on Solidarity Lanes to facilitate grain exports from Ukraine and the possibility to grow crops in Ecological Focus Areas in 2022 and possibly also in 2023. He thanked FEFAC for the engagement to help tackle the logistical challenges, caused primarily by the inaccessibility of Ukrainian sea ports. Burtscher highlighted that the renewed discussions on food security will go hand in hand with the EU Green Deal agenda and Farm to Fork Strategy. He pointed to the need to tackle sustainability challenges for agriculture such as climate change and biodiversity. He stressed the EU’s priority to secure an “open strategic autonomy”, opposing any export restrictions. 

Panel session on the impact on EU feed sector resilience and EU Green Deal targets for the livestock sector

In the first panel session, the panellists Guido Landheer (Dutch Farm Ministry Deputy Director-General), Asbjørn Børsting (FEFAC President), Nick Major (GFLI Chair), Marije Klever (Chair of the Dutch Young Farmers Association NAJK) and Henk Flipsen (Nevedi Director) discussed the impact on EU feed sector resilience and EU Green Deal targets for the livestock sector together with Wolfgang Burtscher. In an effort to facilitate more sustainable food systems, they put a focus on boosting innovation in feed production, such as grass bio-refining and circular feed’ options deemed safe but currently not authorised (see here for examples from the conference’s poster session). They all agreed on the need to provide sufficient resources and time to farmers allowing them to invest in the green transition.

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Panel session on deforestation-free soy supply chains

The second panel was introduced by a (video) statement from Rasmus Prehn (Danish Minister for Food, Agriculture & Fisheries), who highlighted his country’s support for the introduction of due diligence and traceability requirements in the European Commission’s proposal for deforestation-free supply chains. He stated the importance of industry initiatives such as the FEFAC Soy Sourcing Guidelines 2021 to guide companies in the sourcing of more responsible soy, while recommending further strengthening of independent verification systems. The panellists Heleen van den Hombergh (Coordinator Collaborative Soy Initiative and Dutch Soy Platform & agro-commodity advisor IUCN Netherlands), Guilherme do Couto Justo (IDH Soy Programme Manager), Hugo Byrnes (Ahold Delhaize Vice-President Product Integrity), Jim Sutter (CEO US Soybean Export Council), Wei Peng (Soft Commodities Forum, LDC group) and Nicolas Coudry-Mesny (FEFAC Vice-President) pointed to practical challenges and unintended consequences of the European Commission proposal for deforestation-free supply chains. They referred to the current proposal on strict farm plot based traceability which would translate into dedicated, segregated soy supply chains requiring huge investments in infrastructure with no benefit for halting deforestation, as “risky products” will be diverted to other markets. The panellists called for more practically feasible, effective and less costly supply chain solutions which for example rely on a form of mass traceability noting the limited European market share of annual EU soy usage (app 10% of global soy production).

FEFAC and Nevedi, representing respectively the European and Dutch feed industry, co-organised the 66th FEFAC Public Annual meeting on June 2, 2022, in Utrecht, during the VICTAM/VIV Europe Expo. The conference was skilfully moderated by Rose O’Donovan (Chief Editor AGRA FACTS) and was attended by approximately 200 people.