Creating and marketing a high-value, high-quality commodity will be vital for Illinois farmers to increase the number of their products in the hands – and mouths – of European consumers.
That was one of the key takeaways from meetings between a 12-member delegation from the Illinois Farm Bureau and international agriculture officials, industry groups and European farmers during a recent market research visit. .
In France and its main city, Paris, food and the framework around food are ritualistic and idolized.
Parisians, for example, place great importance on the freshness and quality of their food, as well as the means – strictly organic or blocks away in an urban garden – by which it has been grown. They are also willing to pay more for it.
These attitudes were on display at various street-level restaurants and outdoor food markets across the city, where producers sell their wares directly to consumers.
They were also present at the Paris International Agricultural Show, where a mush of food and drink vendors offered customers countless samples of meats, cheeses, breads and wines.
“They do direct marketing to consumers, end users,” said Molly Rosentreter, director of the Macoupin County agricultural bureau. “They have specialty products…and the marketing they use here is really a cut above what we use back home.”
The value of these products is protected by an EU food quality policy, called Geographical Indicators (GIs), which establishes intellectual property rights for specific products, whose qualities, ingredients or production methods are linked to a specific region.
According to EU law, a GI must be labeled on an agricultural product packaged or displayed when it is sold in a street market or in a grocery store. More than 5,000 European and non-European GIs are protected in the Member States.
EU law also stipulates that GIs must be recognized in trade agreements with other countries, such as the United States.
A 2021 study by the European Commission found that although GIs serve as an important marketing tool for the global agricultural market, there are serious problems with the system.
“The main limitations are the low awareness and understanding of the schemes by consumers in some Member States, the complex and lengthy registration procedures and certain weaknesses in controls at the downstream stages of the value chain,” the report says.
Future trade with EUGIs and other trade regimes could dictate the requirements of a future U.S.-EU agriculture trade deal, said Mark Gebhards, executive director of government affairs and commodities at the EUGI. ‘IFB.
There is currently no dedicated free trade agreement between the two partners, although the United States exported around $12 billion in agricultural products to the EU in 2020 and imported $30.6 billion from the EU. EU the same year.
Negotiations on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) launched in 2013 died in 2016 and officially closed in 2019.
Many groups that the IFB delegation met at the Paris International Agricultural Show expressed their support for the resumption of talks around the TTIP, or a similar agreement.
“We don’t spend enough time discussing between European and American producers,” said Franck Laborde, secretary general of the General Association of Corn Producers. “Perhaps now is the time to think twice and forge a stronger relationship between the US and the EU.”
Since the UK left the EU in 2020, agricultural trade policy has been largely in limbo, with government officials “struggling to realign and rewrite EU policies within a national context”, Gebhards said. .
Nonetheless, the delegation had “great talks” with officials at the US Embassy in London, Gebhards said, adding that a trade deal between the US and UK is “in the works”. front and center.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack recently announced that the USDA would sponsor an international trade mission to the United Kingdom, which in 2020 imported $2.7 billion worth of American agricultural products. In 2020, the United States imported approximately $1.1 billion worth of British agricultural products.
Vilsack’s announcement and IFB market research tour comes as the UK has amassed a string of trade deals since leaving the EU. In the past 18 months, it has signed over 70 different trade agreements with other countries.
The British government has also entered into formal negotiations in 2021 to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which the United States left under the Trump administration.
IFB Vice President Brian Duncan said he was confident the meetings “have forged strong bonds” with officials and will hopefully lead to more business opportunities for the members.
“The United States is a producing nation with the ability to export,” Duncan said. “And the Illinois Farm Bureau supports any policy that stimulates trade and business opportunities in other countries.”
This story was distributed as a cooperative project between the Illinois Farm Bureau and the Illinois Press Association. For more food and agriculture news, visit FarmWeekNow.com.