The NFU in North East is urging UK MEPs to reject a draft law limiting the amount of crops involved in biofuel production, which is to be presented to the European Parliament (EP) at the end of the month.
This will be the last EP vote on the draft before it is instated as legislation. It comes after extensive discussion on Indirect Land Use Change (ILUC) both at a European Council, Parliament and Commission trialogue and at the Environment Committee.
The cap on the volume of crops allowed to be used for biofuel processing will be reduced from 10% to 7%, should the compromise be adopted.
The NFU says this will further expose farmers to market volatility as it will narrow the biofuels market for wheat, oilseed rape and sugar beet.
It argues that the food versus fuel basis for the legislation is invalid, suggesting the stable, reliable and domestic supply high-protein animal feed made from the biofuel processing co-product is vital for UK livestock producers.
Furthermore, the organisation believes that, with Europe signalling farmers to produce less, there will be a negative impact on overall grain production and therefore food security.
The indirect impact on UK farmers, it says, would be a reduction in export opportunities for biofuel crops, with countries like Germany - a major importer of UK oilseed rape for that purpose - buying less as a result.
Brett Askew, the NFU’s farmer expert on biofuels and Crop Board chairman for the North East of England, said
Mr Askew, who is the NFU Crops Board Chairman for the North East of England, continued: “Legislators have clearly been bullied into this U-turn by a series of environmental and social pressure groups that, until recently, stood shoulder to shoulder with industry and praised the potential contribution of biofuels in decarbonising the transport sector.
“The biofuel industry has led the way in demonstrating standards on farm in the UK, across Europe and subsequently raising sustainability around the world.
“Yet throughout this process these facts have been ignored with the misleading claim of a conflict between food and fuel distracting policy makers from their original focus - reducing European reliance on harmful fossil fuels in our transport system.
“MEPs have one last chance to demonstrate their commitment to decarbonising the European transport sector while at the same time decreasing the UK and Europe’s protein deficit.
“It is therefore vital that the compromise text is rejected in plenary on April 29.”