Agri co-ops react to EU vote on the Farm to Fork Strategy

Copa-Cogeca argues the strategy lacks the ‘clear roadmap’ and new tools to implement the changes

The European Parliament voted in favour of the EU Farm to Fork Strategy on 19 October with 452 votes in favour, 170 against and 76 abstentions.

The Parliament highlighted the need for “enhanced sustainability at every step of the food supply chain” and called on the European Commission to “reinforce efforts – including through the adaptation of competition rules – to strengthen the position of farmers in the supply chain”.

Other recommendations include mandatory front-of-pack nutritional labels; binding reduction targets for pesticide use; common, science-based animal welfare indicators; and ambitious targets to cut emissions from agriculture. MEPs also suggested gradually eliminating the use of cages in EU animal farming and increasing the EU’s organic land by 2030.

Copa-Cogeca, the European apex for farmers and agricultural co-operatives, joined other industry bodies to raise their concern that they lack a clear roadmap and the right tools to implement the strategy.

They said in a joint statement: “Food chain actors all agree with the main goals set out in the Farm to Fork Strategy, we know that changes are necessary, and we remain committed to playing our part in the path towards a transition to a more sustainable food system.

“Indeed we are already all working in that direction. What we are currently lacking however is new tools and a clearer roadmap. The 2030 deadline is looming, and changes cannot be assimilated overnight.”

They added: “We are now waiting for concrete proposals from the Commission, especially on the blind spots identified in the ongoing debate such as on the effects of carbon leakage, European strategic autonomy, or consumer prices. With this in mind we also welcome the clear signal sent by the Parliament calling on the European Commission to prepare a comprehensive assessment evaluating the impact of its strategy. The factsheet presented by the Commission earlier this week would be a great starting point for such a study.”

The European Commission is now drafting legislative proposals under the Farm to Fork Strategy. The Parliament said these should be preceded by scientific assessments to explore their potential impact.

Herbert Dorfmann (EPP, IT), rapporteur for the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development, said: “Responsibility for a more sustainable agriculture must be a joint effort by famers and consumers. Our farmers are already doing a great job, so when we rightly ask them to further reduce their use of pesticides, fertilisers and antibiotics, we need to support them so production does not just move outside the EU. Ensuring the availability of food at reasonable prices must continue to be a priority.”

Anja Hazekamp (The Left, NL), rapporteur for the Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety, said: “Current EU policies are driving environmentally harmful farming models and paving the way for imports of unsustainable products. We propose concrete measures to bring our food system back within planetary boundaries by stimulating local food production and by moving away from intensive livestock farming and crop monocultures with high pesticide use. A sustainable food system is also crucial for the future of farmers.”