Unexpectedly large majority for new EU food strategy

The European Parliament has approved the new EU farm-to-fork food strategy by an unexpectedly large majority, with 452 votes in favour, 170 against and 76 abstentions. This result means that large majorities also voted in the three major political groups, even after far-reaching enlargements were introduced yesterday through 48 amendments.

Agriculture Commissioner Janusz Wojciechowski said in an initial response that such a large majority in favor of the F2F vision is a signal that we need to improve our food system, and that we are on the right track. Food commissioner Stalle Kyriakides and several party leaders also thanked the Dutch MEP Anja Hazekamp (PvdD). As rapporteur, she had put a lot of effort into the 48 'compromises' reached between the Committee on the Environment and the Committee on Agriculture.

This means that the European Commission is assured of support for the 27 proposals announced by Timmermans last year as part of the Farm-to-Fork strategy. The European Commission will transpose it into law between now and 2024. Each legislative amendment is still voted separately by the Member States and the European Parliament.

Hazekamp said the current EU policy encourages environmentally harmful agriculture and paves the way for imports of unsustainable products. A sustainable food system is also crucial for the future of farmers, she noted. European agricultural policy was set up to promote food security, but this often also led to overproduction, such as the well-known milk lakes or butter mountains.

In a first official response to the vote, the EP welcomes the “Farm to Fork” strategy and underlines the importance of producing sustainable and healthy food, including in the areas of climate, biodiversity, zero pollution and public health. .

EP members reiterated that iedereen – from farmer to consumer – has a role to play in this. To ensure that farmers can earn a fair share of the profits made from sustainably produced food, the European Parliament wants the Commission to make more efforts – including in trade agreements and competition rules – to improve the position of farmers in the supply chain. strengthen.

Bas Eickhout, MEP for GroenLinks, said these proposals are a hard-won compromise between the conservative and progressive wings of the European Parliament. It is now important that this is translated into good legislation and the right investments. Because we often see: when it comes to agriculture, change is suddenly extra difficult.”

VVD member Jan Huitema said he voted against the binding objectives of the farm-to-fork strategy. I am certainly not against less crop protection products and fertilizers, but on the condition that alternatives are available. A logical alternative to fertilizers, for example, is animal manure. However, due to European legislation, farmers are currently unable to fully use their own animal manure for their crops. Instead, they are forced to use fertilizer, he said.

Bert-Jan Ruissen (SGP) rejected the new food strategy. He called it irresponsible of the European Parliament to impose compelling targets for the production of a natural product, without a prior 'impact assessment'. “The European Parliament is taking too great risks with our food production,” he warned.

In her response to the vote, Annie Schreijer-Pierik (CDA) also continued to refer to earlier pleas for 'impact assessment' (full calculation). The Commissioners had said that the F2F vision is not yet concrete enough for that. According to Schreijer-Pieriik, studies have warned of significant production declines, dependence on food imports and uncertain impacts on farm incomes. She therefore voted against.

Mohammed Chahim (PvdA) said: “As Social Democrats, we have also worked hard to improve working conditions. We believe that social rights of workers in agriculture and horticulture should be included as sustainability criteria in the resolution. We need to protect the people who keep our plates filled every day.”

Peter van Dalen (ChristenUnie) voted in favor of the “farm to fork” strategy because it rightly advocates a change in our food system. “That is why I voted in favor of the European Parliament's extensive own package of requirements, which includes the prevention of food waste, the reduction of pesticides, more animal friendliness and sustainable trade agreements.

There is a good chance that this system change will lead to higher prices in the supermarkets. However, taking no action would really cost us dearly, financially, as well as because of our health and the climate.”