COPA-COGECA

Background

COPACOGECA is the combination of European farmers union COPA (Committee of Professional Agricultural Organisations) and COGECA (General Confederation of Agricultural Cooperatives in the European Union), which represents European agri-cooperatives. The two merged on 1 December 1962.  COPACOGECA describes itself as “the united voice of farmers and their cooperatives in the European Union”. [1], [2]

COPA says its objectives include matters relating to the Common Agriculture Policy, representing the agriculture industry, seeking solutions which are of “common interest” and developing and maintaining relations with the “community authorities and with any other representative organisations or social partners established at European level”.  [3]

COGECA says it represents the interests of 40,000 farmers’ cooperatives which employ 660,000 people, and is “involved in shaping and further developing all Community policies that create important framework conditions for cooperative enterprises.” [1]

COPACOGECA has four campaigns listed on its website: European Livestock Voice, Grown Not Thrown, Seventeen Reasons to Coop, and Farmers ClimAct. 

Stance on Climate Change

In a 2019 paper on COPACOGECA’s position on climate action, it says: “European farmers, forest owners and their cooperatives are the first to feel the impact of climate change. Therefore there are no climate change deniers in the European farming community. We are committed to the implementation of the Paris Agreement and support it as an essential part of the European and global political agenda. To achieve the Paris Agreement’s goals, agriculture and forestry sectors are indispensable partners.” [4]

Farmers’ voices need to be heard in public debates in order to put a stop to the distorted picture that is being painted of the sector. No other sector in Europe will be able to remove emissions from the atmosphere naturally, while at the same time supporting the development of a bio-based economy and guaranteeing food security,” it says. 

The group also promotes the use of pesticides in the paper, saying: “Integrated pest management (including being able to rely on the use of authorised plant protection products) is a necessary adaptation measure to ensure food security in situations where diseases and pests are spreading, emerging and jeopardising food production. This includes being able to rely on the use of plant protection products that have been deemed safe by authorities.” 

In an official position paper, dated 20 March, 2000, COPACOGECA argues that the “essential positive role” that agriculture and forests can play in climate policy needs more recognition. “Given the long time lag between political decisions and resulting emission reductions action must be taken now,” it says. [5]

COPA and COGECA say that agriculture can help tackle climate change because “renewable raw materials are produced on farm (i.e. biomass, biofuel) but also animal manure is used as an organic manure as a substitute of high energy fertilisers”. It also argues that “heat and power units on horticulture sites use CO2 which is spread over plants in greenhouses to increase plant photosynthesis.”

COPACOGECA and other big agri-businesses in April 2020 pushed for the already-delayed European Commission’s Farm to Fork strategy, which is aimed at promoting sustainable agriculture, to be further postponed due to the coronavirus. [6]

COPACOGECA has a site called Farmers ClimAct that outlines 11 ways in which farmers can “act concretely against the effects of climate change”, including through precision agriculture and regenerative agriculture. [7]

In an information sheet titled “Crops and climate change,” COPACOGECA says: “Plant protection products are used today in a highly targeted way, through efficient rather than heavy-handed applications. Because of changing climate conditions, new science-based products and practical applications will be required to fight emerging pests and disease threats” — a key aspect of the arguments for precision agriculture strategies. [8]

In a tweet to media outlet EURACTIV, COPACOGECA wrote that “precision farming has many benefits” and that “agriculture data is very valuable”.  [9]


Read more: Digital and Precision Agriculture – Criticisms and Concerns


In a paper on COPACOGECA’s position on climate action, it says: “Research and innovation should focus on the different carbon sequestration techniques as well as on a common methodology as to how to account sequestered or added carbon in soils and biomasses. Farmers’ and forest owners’ efforts to help other sectors to reduce their emissions must be recognised by policy-makers and society as a whole. This needs to be done in order to maximise the full potential of carbon dioxide reduction from the atmosphere and to mitigate GHG emissions” — a key tenet of arguments for regenerative agriculture practices. [5]


Read more: Regenerative Agriculture – Criticisms and Concerns


Role in Pesticides Controversy

COPACOGECA regularly teams up with the European Crop Protection Association (ECPA) when it comes to defending GMOs and pesticides, according to Corporate Europe Observatory. In 2014, COPACOGECA partnered with the ECPA and agricultural association Asaja to launch a photo exhibition on the new Common Agricultural Policy 2014-2020. [10][11]

COPACOGECA also argued for the re-authorisation of glyphosate, the world’s most widely used weed killer which the International Agency for Research on Cancer said in 2015 was “probably carcinogenic to humans” and was re-approved for use by the EU in 2017. According to the BBC, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says glyphosate is safe when it is used carefully. [12][13]

Calling for glyphosate’s re-authorisation in 2017, COPA and COGECA Secretary-General Pekka Pesonen said “Glyphosate is the most widely used herbicide in the EU, enabling us to produce safe, affordable, quality food. Its use is also important together with catch crops to prevent soil erosion and reduce greenhouse gas emissions” and said its withdrawal “could have a negative impact on the environment and climate change.” [14]

In January 2020, the US EPA released a statement that said it had concluded that “there are no risks of concern to human health when glyphosate is used according to the label and that it is not a carcinogen.” [15]

Funding

The annual cost of COPA’s lobbying activities disclosed on the EU transparency register was between €1,000,000 – €1,249,999 in 2018. COGECA’s lobbying costs were listed as between €1,000,000 – €1,249,999 in 2018. Neither organisation received funding from the EU institutions during the last closed financial year. [16], [17]

Lobbying

A New York Times article in 2019 described COPACOGECA’s relationship with European leaders as a “special access that would make others swoon”. The article went on to state: “Before meetings of European farm ministers, for example, the council president grants a private audience to COPACOGECA. That lets farm lobbyists — and only farm lobbyists — make their views heard before key decisions are made.” The European Commission has formed a group with staff members from COPACOGECA and Bayer called the Young Food Policy Network, which hosts social events for government and business officials to network, the New York Times reported. [18]

According to European lobbying records COPA contributed to the public consultation of the 2030 Climate Target Plan between 31 March 2020 – 23 June 2020. It also contributed to the consultation on the European Climate Pact[17][19][20]

In its official position paper from 2000, COPACOGECA said it wished to be consulted by the Commission in the forthcoming EU-activities (European Climate Change Programme) as it understands “the need of in-depth papers for both sectors, forestry and agriculture, to illustrate the positive role they can play in the implementation of the Kyoto Protocol”.  [6]      

It urged the European Union to consider “forest and agricultural products” as long-term carbon sinks when preparing the implementation of the Kyoto Protocol, agreed by nations in 1997 to tackle climate change, as well as the use of wood and farm products as environmental materials and renewable energy sources.                    

Affiliations

COPA says on its website that it currently has 60 full members from the EU Member States, as well as 36 partner organisations. COGECA says it has 35 full members from the EU Member States, four affiliated members and 36 partner organisations. [21][22]

The UK’s Crop Protection Association and National Farmers Union are members of COPA. [21]

Bayer formed the Young Food Policy Network with farmers associations COPACOGECA. [19]

Corteva links

In 2019, COPACOGECA defended the interests of agricultural and chemical company Corteva after the EU’s ban on two disputed pesticides — chlorpyrifos and chlorpyrifos-methyl — asking for a “sufficient grace period” for producers, like Corteva, to make a transition away from the usage of the pesticides. [23]

In October 2019, Corteva took part in an event organised by COPACOGECA that aimed to celebrate and discuss issues related to women in agriculture. The union also worked with Corteva to produce a short film that promoted the event and the two organisations’ work. [24][25]

In 2019, COPACOGECA, and the Danish Agriculture and Food Council, held the 39th edition of the North America-EU agriculture conference in Copenhagen. The event was supported by Corteva and was held to discuss the future of the transatlantic agriculture sector. [26]

References

  1. The dynamic force of European farmers and their cooperatives,” COPACOGECA. Archived November 10, 2020. Archive.vn URL: https://archive.vn/EWeVT 

  2. Home Page,” COPACOGECA. Archived November 10, 2020. Archive.vn URL: https://archive.vn/GjDiE 

  3. COPA: European Agricultural Union,” COPACOGECA. Archived November 10, 2020. Archive.vn URLhttps://archive.vn/MlAlh 

  4. Copa and Cogeca Position on Climate Action,” COPACOGECA, September 2019. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.

  5. Position of Copa and Cogeca: the Forest and Agricultural Sectors Can Play an Essential, Positive Role in Combating Climate Change,” General Committee for Agricultural Cooperation in the European Union, March 20, 2000. Archived.pdf on file at Desmog.

  6. Opportunistic lobbyists abuse the EU’s unprecedented health crisis,” Corporate Europe Observatory,  May 1, 2020. Archived November 10, 2020. Archive.vn URL: https://archive.vn/9twTL

  7. What are EU farmers and Cooperatives’ concrete actions to fight against Climate change? Farmers ClimAct, November 10, 2020. Archive.vn URL: https://archive.vn/WfHaW 

  8. Crops and Climate Change,” Copa-Cogeca. Archived.pdf on file at Desmog.

  9. A2.2. Precision farming has many benefits as does the access to data economy for farmers and should be promoted. Agriculture data is very valuable and that is why with other 8 organisation we have issued the Code of conduct on agri data sharing https://bit.ly/2Ct7PJy #eaAgriFood,” Tweet by @COPACOGECA, March 21, 2019. Retrieved from Twitter.com. Archived .png on file at Desmog.

  10.  “Monsanto Lobbying: An Attack on us, our planet and democracy,” Corporate Europe Observatory. Archived.pdf on file at Desmog.

  11. (Press Release) “Framing the future priorities of agriculture,” European Crop Protection Agency. Archived November 16, 2020. Archive.vn URL: https://archive.vn/cW68R

  12.  Glyphosate,” Pesticide Action Network UK. Archived November 16, 2020. Archive.vn URL: https://archive.vn/AparD 

  13. Weedkiller Glyphosate a ‘substantial’ cancer factor,” BBC News, March 20, 2019. Archived November 16, 2020. Archive.vn URL: https://archive.vn/uEwfi 

  14. Copa calls for glyphosate reauthorisation,” NFU. April 26, 2017. Archived November 16, 2020. Archive.vn URL: https://archive.vn/fIh9E 

  15. EPA Finances Glyphosate Mitigation,” EPA, January 30, 2020. Archived November 16, 2020. Archive.vn URL: https://archive.vn/iyvPB

  16.  “Transparency Register,” EUROPA, February 25, 2009. Archived November 16, 2020. Archive.vn URL: https://archive.vn/08Kmc

  17. Transparency Register: European agri-cooperatives,” EUROPA, February 25, 2009. Archived November 16, 2020. Archive.vn URL: https://archive.vn/2HCc9

  18. Matt Apuzzo, Salem Gebrekidan. “Who keeps Europe’s farm billions flowing? Often, those who benefit,” The New York Times, December 11, 2019. Archived November 16, 2020. Archive.vn URL: https://archive.vn/82Lnl 

  19.  “2030 Climate Target Plan,” European Commission. Archived November 16, 2020. Archive.vn URL: https://archive.vn/LGxuB 

  20. European Climate Pact,” European Commission. Archived November 16, 2020. Archive.vn URL: https://archive.vn/LGxuB 

  21. COPA’s Member Organisations,” Copa-Cogeca. Archived November 16, 2020. Archive.vn URL: https://archive.vn/umJHH 

  22.  “Cogeca’s Member Organisations,” Copa-Cogeca. Archived November 16, 2020. Archive.vn URL: https://archive.vn/6lKYE

  23. Steffan Dahlloff, Stephane Horel. “Pesticide Producers push back to halt EU Ban,” EUObserver, December 2, 2019. Archived November 16, 2020. Archive.vn URL: https://archive.vn/r5oWu

  24. Clara Serrano. “Celebrating Women in Agriculture,” Politico, October 15, 2019. Archived November 16, 2020. Archive.vn URL: https://archive.vn/76AsA 

  25.  “Women in Agriculture,” Corteva. Archived November 16, 2020. Archive.vn URL: https://archive.vn/9hJgU 

  26.  North-America EU Agri Conference,” SmartChain, September 18, 2019. Archived November 16, 2020. Archive.vn URL: https://archive.vn/NXwHX 

 

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