Wednesday, September 14, 2022

Pesticide pause?

The EU is considering delaying plans to halve the use of pesticides over fears that the move could cut production and raise food prices at a time when they are under pressure from the conflict in Ukraine.

The Sustainable Use of Pesticides regulation intends to halve chemicals use by 2030.  This was always an ambitious project, given the lack of progress in getting biological alternatives developed, registered and on the market - and training farmers in their use.

EU farm lobby Copa-Cogeca is pushing for a range of green initiatives to be delayed or abandoned.

The current Czech presidency does not expect to find a compromise by the end of the year and there is some unease in the European Parliament about the proposal. 

Monday, September 12, 2022

Energy costs hit food supplies across Europe

UK growers are scaling back production in greenhouses as energy costs increase, a pattern that is replicated across Europe.  Crops that require intensive heating in colder climates such as tomatoes, cucumbers and lettuce are the most directly affected.

However, the energy crisis is impacting the EU food supply chain more directly.  Bakers, dairy farmers and other producers, including growers of sugar beet and olives are struggling to pay bills.  The price of inputs such as fertiliser and animal feed has shot up, alongside rising refrigeration and transport costs.

The UK's support plan for small businesses lasts just six months and so far lacks detail.     It is claimed that 75 to 80 per cent of UK salad growers will not plant next year.

In the Netherlands, which accounts for a quarter of world tomato exports, many glasshouses are going dark.  The largest tomato supplier in Sweden and Denmark is also switching off this winter.  Growers in Spain and Morocco may not be able to fill the gap.

In Italy, where growers are already struggling with a drought, it is estimated that a third of farmers are operating at a loss.  Monthly energy bills have typically tripled and fertiliser costs are up fourfold.  Many farmers on fixed contracts are choosing to sell the energy on.

Farmers may increase output of less energy intensive crops such as peppers.