ENVI and AGRI Reconvene on Consequences of Farm-to-Fork Strategy

The Agriculture Committee (AGRI) and the Environment Committee (ENVI) of the European Parliament will hold a joint hearing in Brussels on Tuesday on the possible consequences of the European Commission's new farm-to-fork strategy.

Much attention will be paid to the consequences for food production by European farmers, and the possible consequences for their incomes. Two studies will be presented at the hearing, one by Jayson Beckman of the US Department of Agriculture and another by researcher Roel Jongeneel of Wageningen University & Research.

This will be followed by presentations of studies of the resilience of food systems by Nora Hiller of the Institute of European Environmental Policy and of agroecology by the Pierre – Marie Aubert of the Institut du Développement Durable et des Relations Internationales.

In the run-up to that new strategy, many MEPs criticized the lack of an impact assessment of those plans, something they had been pushing for months. At the very last minute, a 'technical report' by our own EU researchers (JRC) was submitted. It argued, among other things, that an adequate and complete impact assessment was not possible. It is claimed that not all future changes can be calculated yet.

Farm-to-fork proposes to significantly expand organic farming to about 25 percent within a few years, also to no longer use wide strips along ditches and waters, and to reduce the use of chemicals in agriculture. be significantly reduced. But in most calculation models it is not yet possible to calculate whether the public will soon buy more organic food products, or will be willing to buy more expensive food that has been produced according to stricter rules.

According to the recently published WUR study, it is 'probable' that incomes and turnovers of agricultural entrepreneurs could fall by 10 to 20 percent, and production quantities even by 30 percent, if production has to be carried out according to these new criteria.

The WUR researchers also assume that exports will decrease accordingly and that Europeans will buy correspondingly cheaper imported products. The possible consequences for more biodiversity, more food safety and more health were not calculated and included in that study.

Possible compensation by new import restrictions (eg proposed by France) in trade agreements for foreign substitutes or by future shifts in purchasing behavior cannot yet be quantified.

The debates in the committee meeting in two different panels conclude with a statement from representatives of the European Commission, the Directorate-General for Agriculture and Rural Development and the Directorate-General for Health and Food Safety.

In October, the European Parliament adopted its position on the strategy to reform the EU food systems. EP members then emphasized the importance of producing sustainable and healthy food as well as the need for food security and a fair income for farmers.