Major Euro factions decide on the consequences of F2F food policy

Perhaps the most discussed topic next week in the European Parliament in Strasbourg will be the farm-to-fork strategy. The aim of this strategy is to reduce the ecological impact of the EU food system, while ensuring food security.

It is still unclear whether the plenary of the EU parliament will follow an earlier rather unequivocal vote of the AGRI Agriculture Committee and the ENVI Environment Committee. The Committee on the Environment was almost entirely in favour, and in the Committee on Agriculture there was also a small majority.

The Dutch members of those committees voted very divided about the farm-to-fork strategy in the committee meeting last month. Jan Huitema (VVD), Mohammed Chahim (PvdA) and Anja Hazekamp (PvdD) voted in favour. The two CDA members Esther de Lange and Annie Schreijer-Pierik abstained, and Rob Rooken (JA21) and Bert-Jan Ruissen (SGP) voted against.

It has become clear from previous discussions that many MEPs find the plans far too drastic, while others reject it because it is too non-committal. Moreover, the protest against 'agricultural obligations' is much greater in the agriculturally-oriented countries.

There is a possibility that large parts of the two major political groups (Christian Democrats and Social Democrats) will abstain or vote against it. The conservative and right-wing groups are already known to oppose too many climate and environmental demands. If only the entire factions of the united left, greens and liberals support the food strategy, the question will be how small the support or how big the resistance will be in the plenary vote.

MEP Peter van Dalen (ChristenUnie) recently said: “I wholeheartedly support this ambition (for less environmental pollution and healthier food ed.), but I am also happy that impact assessments are involved, so that we know for sure whether Europe not fall in the foot when it comes to food security.”

Dutch PvdA member Mohammed Chahim said: “We need to better organize the entire food supply chain, both for our health and for the climate. It is time to make our European food system more sustainable. Everyone has the right to healthy food that is sustainably produced for a fair price. The compromises that are now in place are balanced and will certainly contribute to this.”

But agricultural EU countries and national and European agricultural groups are campaigning fiercely against 'environmental obligations in agriculture' until the last moment. The lack of financial (income) security for farmers in particular plays an important role in this. The Commission says that such a far-reaching plan for the future cannot be precisely calculated in advance.

Several 'impact assessments' show that less use of chemicals in agriculture and livestock leads to less environmental pollution, but also tons less production, less agricultural income and higher food prices.

The umbrella association of EU Farmers and Cooperatives (COPA-COGECA) hopes the studies will lead to the rejection of the objectives of the Farm to Fork strategy.