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EPP CONGRESS: Austria Welcomes EPP Congress 2009

by 5m Editor
4 June 2009, at 6:09pm

AUSTRIA - The Austrian branch of the European Pig Producers (EPP) Association is hosting this year's annual congress in the charming city of Graz. Jackie Linden reports from the opening day of the meeting for ThePigSite.

Around 350 delegates from 14 different countries gathered in the Congress Centre in the city of Graz today for the opening of the EPP Congress 2009. The theme of the meeting is 'Pig meat: the future is about to begin'.

EPP president, Per Bach Laursen, welcomed the delegates. He said he was looking forward to learning more about the strategies of the Austrian pig industry regarding health, feed and marketing.

Referring to the tough challenges facing Europe's pig producers today from lower-cost and less regulated imports, Mr Laursen emphasised the importance of meetings like the EPP Congress to meet colleagues form other countries and learn form each other's experiences.

President of the Austrian Pig Producers Association, VOS, Walter Lederhilger, sees the most important priorities for the European Union as the creation of strategies for animal welfare, local production and over feed ingredients. On the latter point, he said, a strategy over genetically modified (GM) feed ingredients is urgently needed as supplies of non-GM soy are becoming hard to source and more expensive.

Networks need to be established at all levels across the industry, Mr Lederhilger, adding that the EPP Congress is a vital platform, which will help to make the pig industry in Austria and across Europe more competitive.

The president of the Agricultural Chamber of Austria, Gerhard Wlodkowski, opened his presentation that he was previously a pig farmer near the Slovenian border. He said he hoped that the European Parliamentary election in the coming days will strengthen the representation of farming in general in the Parliament and improve the agricultural budget.

Agriculture remains an important industry in the EU, Mr Wlodkowski stressed, because it employs significant numbers of people both directly on farms and in the food industry, which depends on it.

Four other presentations made on the opening day of the EPP Congress – all about the Austrian pig industry – will be reported later on ThePigSite.