Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Farm to Fork strategy under threat

The EU's commitment to tackle climate change in the food chain has arguably never been as strong as it should been, in part because of pressure from the agri-food industries, but the Farm to Fork strategy at least outlined a way forward and set some targets.   Now it is under jeopardy as climate change is once again relegated in importance as food security comes to the fore given the historic role of Ukraine as a European 'bread basket'.

Farm to Fork targets included cutting fertiliser use by a fifth (it may reduce anyway because of soaring prices), halving the use of antibiotics and increasing the amount of land farmed organically from 9 per cent to 23 per cent.   Pesticide use has already decreased with many substances banned.

French president Emmanuel Macron has said that the sustainable food strategy was 'based on a pre-Ukraine war world' and should be revised, claiming it would lead to a 13 per cent drop in food production: https://www.euractiv.com/section/agriculture-food/news/macron-wants-to-adapt-eu-farm-to-fork-to-the-post-ukraine-war-world/  

He would, wouldn't he?  He is facing a presidential election in which he needs the votes of farmers, but Italy and Spain have raised similar concerns.

The farm lobby in the form of Copa/Cogeca have seized the window of political opportunity and called for increased fertiliser imports, pesticide use and cultivation of crops for animal feed.  They have also called for opt outs from ecological schemes and climate-linked animal welfare standards.

The Food Policy Coalition insists that the war in Ukraine is a reminder of how important it is to implement the Green Deal and the Farm to Fork and Biodiversity strategies: https://foodpolicycoalition.eu/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/Joint-open-letter-EU-food-supply-and-solidarity-response-to-the-war-in-Ukraine.-March-2022.pdf

Farm ministers were meeting in Brussels on Monday March 21st.

Thursday, March 10, 2022

Food security prioritised over ecology

The majority of European Parliament agricultural committee rapporteurs want a new emphasis on food security even if it means watering down ecological focus areas: https://www.politico.eu/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/10/STAMPED_D20227683_Lins-Wojciechowski_Ukraine.pdf?utm_source=POLITICO.EU&utm_campaign=96260bf5c9-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2022_03_10_06_09&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_10959edeb5-96260bf5c9-188948165

The green transition is certainly in danger and there is a risk of taking panic measures in current circumstances.   Measures to tackle climate change had their limits in the CAP anyway. Production and environmental protection need not be an 'either or' choice.

Monday, March 07, 2022

Risks to the sustainability agenda

It could be 'back to the future' as farm organisations use the war in Ukraine to bang the food security drum.  There are, of course, real issues here, given the importance of Russia and Ukraine in wheat production, but there is a risk of reverting to old fashioned blunt instrument subsidies and downgrading the sustainability agenda.

In particular one could create a false dichotomy between food security and sustainability: https://www.foodnavigator.com/Article/2022/03/07/Ukraine-war-detonates-EU-food-security-debate-but-will-sustainability-be-collateral-damage#

I will write more about this issue in the coming days.

Friday, December 24, 2021

Why we need research across disciplines to change food systems

This call for transdisciplinary research in the transformation of food systems is one I very much endorse and is reflected in my forthcoming book Rethinking Agricultural and Food Policy just submitted to Edward Elgar: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1186/s40100-021-00207-2

Monday, December 20, 2021

Call for EU plant protein strategy

France and Austria have national plant protein strategies and have called for a EU level strategy as part of a drive towards a more sustainable food system: https://info.bmlrt.gv.at/dam/jcr:e056d439-b736-439d-a0a2-fe03a02a5e44/Deklaration%20EN.pdf

Friday, December 17, 2021

Green takes agriculture ministry in Germany

The new food and agriculture minister in Germany, Cem Ozdemir, is a Green and a vegetarian.   However, he is seen as a pragmatist and his appointment has been welcomed by German farm organisations: https://www.politico.eu/article/germany-cem-ozdemir-agriculture-minister-farmers-election-greens/

The new German coalition will not manage to overhaul the CAP national strategic plan before the deadline, but aims for mid-term review and possible revisions.

Monday, October 18, 2021

Green food plan under attack

The European Parliament is due to vote on the Commission's Farm to Fork strategy this week, but is facing a lobbying blitz from farmers, agribusiness and even the US Government.  It is being argued that the strategy will reduce crop yields and force up prices: https://www.politico.eu/article/meps-vote-eus-green-food-plan-farm-to-fork/