European agri co-ops raise concerns about European Green Deal

'The success of the Green Deal will partly depend on the success and the preservation of the family farming model in Europe,' says Copa-Cogeca

Agri co-ops in Europe have asked the European Commission to clarify aspects of its new Green Deal, voicing concern about proposals to curb the use of pesticides and fertilisers.

The Commission has announced that its Farm to Fork Strategy for Sustainable Food will be presented this spring, as a key component of the European Green Deal. 

In a statement published on 11 December, Copa-Cogeca, the organisation representing European farmers and agri co-ops, said its members were ready to play their role in fulfilling the vision but called for a “concrete and realistic project” that does not leave anyone behind.

The apex body noted that many farmers across Europe had taken to the streets to call for coherent policies, a decent income and the end to what they see as an unfair depiction of the agricultural sector.

European farmers and co-ops are also asking the Commission to clarify certain aspects of the Green Deal, such as how the European budget would factor in the ambitions of the Green Deal, as well as those of the upcoming Farm to Fork strategy. The sector is requesting details about how these policies will be taken into account when setting out the Common Agricultural Policy, which is in the process of being reformed.

The Green Deal mentions a “significant reduction” in pesticides and fertilisers without giving specific targets. It also states that the potential role of new innovative technologies will be considered” without further details about these.

Agri co-ops argue the deal fails to mention a list of “credible alternatives” for farmers to significantly reduce the use of pesticides and fertilisers.

Copa-Cogeca also wants to know if “new technologies and scientific discoveries” mentioned in the document will include new breeding techniques based on genetic modification, which are currently blocked by the European Court of Justice.

And it has questions over how the Commission will drive the uptake of “digital technologies”, which play a central role in the Green Deal, when only 50% of European rural areas have broadband coverage.

“Agriculture is an essential partner of all the landmark policies that feature in the Green Deal,” read the statement published by Copa-Cogeca. “European farmers and their co-operatives will actively contribute to the “broad stakeholder debate” that was announced in the Farm to Fork Strategy.

“The success of the Green Deal will partly depend on the success and the preservation of the family farming model in Europe. No other sector can remove emissions from the atmosphere naturally, while at the same time being the basis of the development of a bio-based economy and guaranteeing food security.”

The Commission should also explore the financial impact of the Green Deal at a time when European agriculture is facing the challenge of generational renewal, Copa-Cogeca added.

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