EU policy on Maltese agriculture must be contested on all levels
Former Prime Minister Alfred Sant said the European Commission’s policy on Maltese Agriculture must be contested on all levels. The EU is very reluctant to apply special measures to Maltese farming. Dr. Sant, addressing the Labour Party General Meeting of Mġarr, said that in reply to a parliamentary question to the European Commission asking for more flexibility when considering the needs of Maltese farmers, Farm Commissioner Hogan argued that the common agricultural policy is already sufficiently flexible in this regard. “This view should be contested on all levels for sometimes persistence pays.” Insisted Dr. Sant.
Dr. Sant explained how Malta's agriculture has characteristics that are very different from most other farming sectors in EU member states. “For instance the average holding in Malta is 1.2 hectare; in the bigger countries, the average farm is between 50 and 60 hectares.” said Dr. Sant.
Dr. Sant said that as of August 2014, he had made the claim that even though they did not export to Russia, Maltese farmers and pig breeders would need support and compensation as a result of the Russian embargo on food imports from the EU. On this matter, he made a parliamentary question. “In its reply, the EU Commission had been non-committal.”
Dr. Sant said that in September 2014 he again pressed the need to protect pigmeat producers in island states during a plenary debate on the situation in European agriculture, following the Russian embargo.
Finally, in October 2015, the European Commission had accepted to allocate 119,570 euros to Maltese pigmeat producers and to allow the Malta government to introduce extra compensation if it so wished. “The Maltese agricultural sector needs to continue to lobby for its special position to be given full recognition and support.” concluded Alfred Sant.