EU biofuels curbs would 'put quality feed supplies at risk'


The European Union, which already imports some $12bn of plant proteins for feed, would raise further its reliance on buy-ins by implementing plans to cut biofuel production, farmers groups Copa and Cogeca said.

The European Commission is mulling curbs on biofuels which could cut to 3.8% in 2030, from 7% in 2021, the maximum contribution liquid biofuels can make to the bloc's renewable energy target.

The idea comes against longstanding concerns in some parts of the commission over the impact that biofuel production may have in boosting food prices, in exacerbating competition for crops, and a drive to boost the development of technology making fuels from agricultural waste instead.

A draft of the commission proposal said that a "progressive reduction" in food-based biofuels, and their replacement by so-called "advanced" alternatives would "realise the potential for decarbonising the transport sector".

'Quality feed supplies at risk'

However, turning away from conventional biofuels would come at a cost in terms of reducing output of the feed which also comes from the process of converting crops into biofuels, farmer co-operatives Copa and Cogeca said.

Turning the likes of corn into ethanol gives, as a byproduct, distillers' grains, a high-protein feed ingredient.

Meanwhile, processing oilseeds into the vegetable oils used to make biodiesel also produces meals, also a high-protein feed source.

"Reducing the target would put quality feed supplies at risk," the co-operatives said.

"Only part of the rapeseed, wheat, maize… is used to produce biodiesel or bioethanol. The rest is used for feed."

An EU clampdown on biofuels would, for instance, "cut rapeseed production, due to the lack of a rapeseed oil market", and by inference stem output of the rapeseed meal, a big feed source within the bloc, which is the top grower of the oilseed.

Big importer

The EU is already, by a distance, the world's biggest importer of oilseed meals such as soymeal, with buy-ins forecast by the US Department of Agriculture at 27.6m tonnes in 2016-17, equivalent to about half the bloc's demand.

While China is a bigger consumer of meals, to feed its extensive hog herd, it imports in the main raw oilseeds, mainly soybeans, and processes the crop in-country.

According to Copa and Cogeca, the EU imports 70% of its overall plant proteins needs, with a value of E12bn last year, up from E9bn in 2008.


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