The time it takes to obtain an EU quality label for farm produce from a given geographical area, or produced in a traditional way, could be halved by a regulation endorsed by Parliament on Thursday. The new rules, agreed by EP Agriculture Committee MEPs and Council negotiators in June, would also introduce a new label for "mountain" products. Labels for island produce and farm gate sales may follow soon.
"This regulation will help both farmers and customers. Simpler registration procedures will encourage farmers to register their products and ingredients with quality labels schemes and thus to better explain the added value of their products to customers, who will then be able to make more informed choices", said rapporteur Iratxe García Pérez (S&D, ES).
The new rules, approved with 528 votes in favour, 57 against and 33 abstentions, will cut the time limit for the European Commission's response to a registration request from 12 to just 6 months. The time allowed for raising objections will also be reduced.
Better protection of registered products...
Parliament ensured that food producers' groups - i.e. any association of producers, processors or producer-processors - will be empowered to take measures to protect their proprietary names and promote the authenticity and reputation of their products.
... but no supply management yet
Producers' groups may monitor the position of their products on the market but will not have the right to establish a system to manage the volume of protected products produced or to "adjust" supply and demand, as initially requested by the Agriculture Committee. However, "the debate on supply management will continue as a part of the discussion on the Common Agricultural Policy reform" stressed Ms. García Pérez.
New definition of "traditional" products
Producers applying for a "traditional speciality guaranteed" (TSG) label will have to prove usage on a domestic market for 30 years, up from 25 years today. The new TSG scheme will safeguard not only traditional production methods, but also recipes, as requested by Parliament.
Mountain and island labels
A new label to enable mountain producers to better promote the added value of their products will be introduced when the new legislation enters into force. Labels for island produce and a new scheme for local farming and direct sales might follow a year later.
"Protected designation of origin" (PDO) - used for products produced, processed and also prepared in a given area e.g. Parmigiano Reggiano, Shetland Lamb, Feta, and Roquefort.
"Protected geographical indication" (PGI) - used for produce for which at least one production stage takes place in the specified region, e.g. Starobrněnské pivo, Schwarzwälder Schinken, or Castaña de Galicia.
"Traditional speciality guaranteed" (TSG) - producers using a recognised traditional method to make e.g. Vieille Kriek, Liptovská saláma, Kalakukko, or Prekmurska gibanica.