Time to bed in
The EU Commission’s unveiling of Farm to Fork Strategy received a mixed response despite the Commission saying it has presented a coherent set of policies to tackle the food, farming and environmental sectors.
In essence, the strategy sets concrete targets to transform the EU’s food system – slashing pesticide use and boosting organic farming.
The announcement did come with a slight delay, due to coronavirus, but the European Commission says the current crisis makes the policy all the more pressing.
“We believe that in this period in the world struggling with a pandemic we should also be thinking about how to increase our resilience, how to be able to translate the wish of people to look after their health, into concrete projects and plans,” Frans Timmermans, executive vice-president of the European Commission, told reporters.
“So, in that context, the biodiversity and the farm to fork strategies are a central element of the EU recovery plan.”
The targets set in the “farm to fork” strategy include:
- 50% cut of pesticides by 2030
- 20% cut in fertilisers
- 50% reduction in sales of antimicrobials used for farmed animals and aquaculture
- 25% increase in organic farming
For the strategy to become a reality will take tremendous momentum, let alone action to reflect the true cost of producing food. The new requirements from the EU could add extra pressure, at a time when plenty in the food industry are worried about the expected additional cuts to EU farming funds for 2021-2027.
Any incoming recession has some worried about the rising costs to consumers, amid an economic downturn following the coronavirus pandemic. Will consumers pay more for the food in return for the measures listed above? The economic impact of Covid-19 could see a significant decline in individuals’ purchasing power.
I’m not one always calling for more studies. A lot of thought has gone into the EU’s flagship initiative, however this time the EPP group has it right when it called for a “thorough impact assessment before starting any reforms” – we’ve a lot on our plates at the moment.