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Farm to Fork Strategy: how to reach the targets?
With the Farm to Fork deadline looming in 8 years’ time and no comprehensive impact assessment in sight, we must build solution-oriented policies, based on the available data we have at hand, with innovation as their cornerstone.
European agri-food production is among the most resource-efficient and sustainable in the world. The European farming sector believes that, with innovation and further support at the forefront of EU agricultural policy, farmers will and can continue to produce in an even more sustainable manner. We acknowledge the expectations of society and policymakers for food production systems and believe that innovation is key in the sustainable transition outlined by the Farm to Fork Strategy. But innovation cannot happen without the necessary legislative and financial support. The agri-food sector calls on European policymakers to enable innovation as a driver of its Farm to Fork targets.
This is how the agri-food value chain can contribute:
The animal health industry is currently at the forefront of a technological and digital transformation. Breakthroughs in biotechnology, detection tools and robotics, genomic testing, and advanced vaccines, amongst others, are set to become essential tools for the future of both livestock farming and the veterinary profession. By supporting access to and training on how to best use such innovations, farmers will be able to optimise the health and welfare of animals in their care, reduce environmental impacts, ensure better traceability, and support responsible use of medicines, amongst others.
AVEC – Association of Poultry Processors and Poultry Trade in the EU Countries
A large part of the GHG emissions associated with the poultry meat sector are coming from feed sources. The European poultry meat sector has the ambition to reduce its environmental impact by using more sustainable feed sources (phasing out the use of feed associated with deforestation) and by further improving the efficiency of the sector (digestibility). The sector is also looking to make its supply chain more circular (by using biogas, solar panels) and more climate-friendly (on transport, packaging and on the use of resources).
The European agricultural machinery sector supports farmers of all farm types and sizes to get the most from their land, while protecting the environment and bringing economic and social value. Investments in advanced farm machinery, precision farming technologies and digital solutions will help our farmers stay competitive in the transition towards more sustainable farming practices, ensuring a generation renewal of European farming activities. The objectives of the European Green Deal and the Farm to Fork strategy cannot be achieved without smart technologies and digital transformation. We call on European policy makers to champion the uptake of precision farming and smart technologies through advanced agricultural machinery and solutions.
Impact assessments and studies have shown the significant impacts of the Farm to Fork targets on EU agricultural production and trade, as well as on EU farmers. The feasibility of reaching these targets will depend on the support provided to innovative practices, techniques and products. In particular, the current and future regulatory framework on plant protection must avoid the arising of agro-technical deadlocks resulting from the removal of plant protection solutions from the farmers’ toolbox before viable alternative come onstream. Enough time must be given for viable alternatives from innovation to become effectively available to (and workable for) farmers. Furthermore, policy/regulatory framework should not inhibit but promote innovation, notably as regards new plant breeding techniques and their results. Last but not least, policy/regulatory framework should be able to take account of the extent to which good agricultural practices, including IPM, are already applied by farmers in the EU.
The European Meat Processing sector believes that a swift transition towards more sustainable food systems should be made in a holistic, fair and coordinated way, by taking into account that any sector is part of the solution and solutions should be found within any sector. There are no sustainable and unsustainable sectors, but more and less sustainable business practices. The debate is now based on a divisive approach which could undermine the target of more sustainable food systems. We call on a less divisive approach in the implementation of the Farm to Fork Strategy, the removal of regulatory bottlenecks which can limit innovation and harmonized solutions which can promote a level playing field for the European operators.
The upcoming global challenges our food chains have started facing – from climate change to disruptive innovation – require comprehensive regulation to better adapt and possibly thrive in uncertain times. Safe crop protection solutions placed on the EU market, together with qualified advisory to farmers and growers, help meet the productivity goals under the Farm to Fork, thereby providing safe, affordable food for the EU population. Yet,
interconnectedness and rapid evolution of our food systems food demand unparalleled and fast-adapting regulatory tools. COCERAL believes that standards established at the international level plus continuous dialogue with third countries should inspire actions directed to harmonisation, lessening hidden barriers whilst maintaining high safety standards for consumers and citizens wherever they live, plus environmental care.Advancements flourishing in the domain of sustainable alternatives and green agriculture – including life sciences and biotechnology – should ideally be reflected in enabling regulatory frameworks in due course. Furthermore, innovation doesn’t stop at borders. There is much need for a world-oriented and future- looking European policy for innovation, accounting for food security, safety and sustainability, as well as for interoperability of current supply chains. In the absence of this, EU traders and Food Business Operators alike will be confronted with hidden obstacles and costly consequences. To do this, we believe that the broader EU regulatory architecture must have a fast-paced, solutions enabling and innovation-focused approach, with local relevance but also global outreach.
Copa-Cogeca 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, European farmers, forest owners and their cooperatives are already all working in that direction. 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. This is about finding new EU enabling ways to contribute to change in a practical and realistic manner talking about: low risk substances – to replace means to combat pest and disease while losing synthetic molecules; New Breeding/Genomic Techniques to improve farming resilience naturally through better genetic material; developing dynamic market for nutrients, by mineral fertilisers and in particular organic fertilisers; Next steps in the Unfair Trading Practices Directive, for more balanced, transparent value chain; Policy consistency across the EU – we are committed to the common policies, but how will this will be translated into the increasingly open international trade.
We need a regulatory framework that supports innovation in agriculture which will help deliver the European green and digital transformations. EU authorisation giving timely access to a variety of innovative crop protection solutions is the most important part of farmers’ ability to improve quality, market access and tradability of fresh produce.
EFFAB – European Forum of Farm Animal Breeders
Through selective animal breeding, we achieve better use of feed by animals, reduced carbon footprint and improved animal health and welfare whilst preserving genetic resources – from conventional to organic farming. However, we need more support for research and innovation and to develop legal instruments and tools, in order to accelerate the genetic improvement of farmed animals, and to provide further solutions for farmers, breeders and our society boosting sustainability of EU food systems.
ELO European Landowners Organisation
Innovations such as the New Genomic Techniques (NGT) need to be considered if we are serious about reaching the F2F targets and remain competitive at a global scale. The EU’s current legal framework on GMOs needs to be revised and gene-editing research needs to be encouraged to bridge the gap with other major producing countries. Likewise, we need to have more safe crop protection products and fertilisers on the market. Farmers need them in order to make the transition towards a more sustainable and viable food system. Enabling SMEs access on the market by ensuring a lighter registration process can give farmers the tools they need to reach the ambitious targets set for them.
The biorefineries that produce renewable ethanol are working, real-life examples of the bioeconomy in action. European feedstock grown by EU farmers is used to make several important products: including not just renewable low-carbon fuel but also food, high- protein GMO-free animal feed, alcohol for use in hand sanitiser, and captured CO2 for beverage use. The Farm-to-Fork Strategy should promote this domestic biorefinery system, empowering EU climate ambitions, improving food security and ensuring a strategic supply chain.
We need a regulatory environment that encourages plant breeding and delivers on both purposes: quality assurance for customers (the reproductive material meets their demands regardless of the production system, conventional/organic) and speeding up the development of new varieties (for which New Genomic Techniques are a crucial element).
The Farm to Fork strategy has recognised the key role of specialty feed ingredients stressing the need to facilitate the placing on the market of sustainable and innovative feed additives. The up-coming modernization of the EU feed additive rules is a unique opportunity to address the shortcomings of the current regulatory framework, such as the lengthy and costly authorization procedure, unnecessary administrative burden, the regulatory hurdles to the application of digital solutions, and the need for alignment with other EU legislation. We are calling on the European Commission to work with the stakeholders of the feed sector in order to elaborate a proposal that supports innovation and progress towards achieving objectives of the Green Deal/Farm to Fork Strategy with the help of feed additives.
The production of feed for food-producing animals plays a key role in determining the sustainability of animal products. Animal production itself plays a key role in determining the sustainability of the whole food system. The impacts that the Farm to Fork Strategy is envisioned to make on the EU Regulatory Framework respective to food production should start from the premises that the different farm animals and the different livestock farming systems all have their strengths, as they excel differently in terms of nutrient and resource efficiency. In the effort to further boost the livestock sector’s role in circular economy, with
its capacity to absorb residual biomass from other (industrial) food and non-food sectors, the EU should keep in mind that efforts to boost the sustainability of energy production, with use of advanced biofuels, can impact the competitive access of the feed sector to residual biomass flows in the future.
As 50 % of global food production is down to the use of mineral fertilizers, the European fertilizer industry plays a vital role in ensuring a resilient European agriculture and in providing citizens with affordable and nutritious food. Increased nutrient use efficiency will be key to meet Europe’s ambitious goal of reducing nutrient losses while ensuring no deterioration of soil fertility. This goal can best be achieved by increasing nutrient use efficiency and setting up nutrient management plans as well as development and uptake of on-farm precise fertilization techniques. The sector is committed to work hand-in hand with farmers to advance a productive, resilient and sustainable EU agriculture.
AGRICULTURE & PROGRESS
Without innovative techniques, it is quite clear that the EU farming community and its downstream users would be unable to guarantee sufficient affordable high-quality produce for EU citizens and for the growing world population – and as a consequence achieve all the ambitious goals foreseen in the Farm-to-Fork Strategy. Innovative techniques such as New Genomic Techniques are key in meeting society’s growing demand to speed up efforts to further increase sustainability and respect for the environment. However, innovation requires time and investments in terms of R&D to overcome technical barriers. The uncertainty currently generated at EU level risks preventing NGTs from becoming mainstream and a permanent part of the agricultural toolbox. Linked to this, the effects of climate change, as well as the efforts made to face them, affect all individuals and economic sectors, but in particular rural communities and agriculture. Agriculture being one of the economic sectors most strongly depending on natural conditions, the efforts required to adapt to a changing environment are particularly important for farmers. The Agriculture & Progress Platform would therefore like to call upon the European Commission to not only integrate globally the challenges of agriculture in its policies but to additionally see agriculture as a means to an end / key player for achieving them (climate change, energy transition, bio economy, …).
The European Livestock and Meat Trades Union is a reliable sustainability actor from the economic, ecological and social angle – in the way our 50 associations and 20 000 companies handle welfare, trade, and reduce emissions
– in our supportive approach to the Farm-to-Fork strategy – in concretely working towards a science-based methodology to devise solutions to our environmental footprint and in developing a data-based sensitivity analysis (to be communicated soon)
From farm to fork via factory, UECBV implements a true circular economy approach based on trade. It aims for a balanced biosystem which includes animals and plant production, supports innovation and prepares for the expected transition. Meat is a nutritious and cultural food able to be produced in a sustainable manner and delivering on consumer expectations. UECBV is strongly involved in finding innovative solutions using given and developing tools like the already signed Code of Conduct, and is able to open doors to transversal approaches for a proven resilient sector.
Agriculture and Progress – European Platform for Sustainable Agricultural Production Agri-food Chain Coalition – European agri-food chain joint initiative AnimalhealthEurope – European Animal Medicines Industry AVEC – European Association of Poultry Processors and Poultry Trade CEMA –European Agricultural Machinery Association CIBE – International Confederation of European Beet Growers Clitravi – Liaison Centre for the Meat Processing Industry in the European Union COCERAL – European association of trade in cereals, oilseeds, pulses, olive oil, oils and fats, animal feed and agrosupply Copa-Cogeca – European Farmers and Agri-Cooperatives CropLife Europe- Europe’s Industry representing sustainable crop protection solutions EFFAB – European Forum of Farm Animal Breeders ELO – European Landowners’ Organization European Livestock Voice – European Platform of the Livestock Food Chain Euroseeds – European Seed Sector ePURE – European Renewable Ethanol Industry FEFAC – European Feed Manufacturers’ Federation FEFANA – European Association of Specialty Feed Ingredients and their Mixtures Fertilizers Europe – European Fertilizer Producers UECBV – European Livestock and Meat Trades Union
On 7 December sector associations from European Livestock Voice invited EVP Timmermans to visit a beef and dairy farm in the Wallonia region of Belgium. The visit organised in cooperation with local farming Union FWA, was a great opportunity for EVP Timmermans to engage in a direct and open discussion with livestock farmers on the Green Deal objectives. It was also a first step in opening an action-oriented dialogue between the Commission EVP and EU representatives of the livestock value chain on the future developments of the Farm to Fork strategy. The European livestock sector has been investing in making improvements for many years now with measurable outcomes in many areas. With best-in-class standards of animal health and welfare and among the lowest global livestock emissions, high standards on environment, the sector does not shy away from continuing to adapt to meet increasing demands. All representatives of the European livestock sector agree on the fact that more needs to be done to meet social, environmental, and animal welfare challenges. But no one should be left behind.
The EU livestock sector is calling for a consistent approach. As the recent debates around the Farm to Fork strategy have shown, there are many questions that need to be answered to ensure that efforts made in the EU do not lead to climate or environmental dumping elsewhere. It is also essential for the livestock sector to be able to invest in the tools and production methods best suited to match an unprecedented situation. There are now many interesting proposals being discussed at European level, notably on carbon farming, on animal welfare labelling or changes to current EU legislation to stimulate innovation in animal production to meet the challenging targets of the European Green Deal and Farm to Fork strategy. The livestock sector must be a key partner in these discussions. The EU livestock sector must retain its possibility and capacity to continue contributing to sustainability.
Representatives of the 12 sectoral associations – breeders, animal health, feed and specialty feed ingredients, farmers and agri co-operatives, dairy and poultry producers, meat processors, foie gras producers, livestock traders, leather and fur producers – are all united in the belief that collectively we can deliver on the ambitious EU actions and targets. Nevertheless, it is certain that pledges to deliver on targets must be a two-way agreement. Coherence between EU policies and support measures is needed, and there must be a balance of the burden of changes for the primary producer, as for the retailer, as for the consumer.
It was in this spirit and with the aim of finding solutions that a roundtable discussion was held between the livestock value chain stakeholders and EVP Timmermans following the visit to François-Hubert and Stéphane Van Eyck’s Farm.
Commenting after the event on behalf of European Livestock Voice, Birthe Steenberg said: “As the Commission is now working on concrete proposals to materialise the Farm to Fork strategy, this open dialogue was an important step forward in ensuring that the voice of the livestock sector is heard in the wide debate around food systems sustainability. We welcome the willingness of Commission EVP Timmermans to come onto ‘our turf’ and we hope to continue these active debates next year to ensure balanced and positive outcomes for all involved.”
Closing the event Commission VP Timmermans said: “In our efforts to tackle the climate crisis, agriculture has to move from being part of the problem to being part of the solution. Overall, the Common Agricultural Policy is there to help farmers move in the right direction. In livestock farming, the solutions must focus on reducing emissions and creating an overall sustainable industry. Because to feed 10 billion people in the future, the world will need a sustainable livestock industry.”
Notes for editors: About European Livestock voice: European Livestock Voice is a multi-stakeholder group of like-minded partners in the livestock food chain that have decided to unite for the first time to balance the debate surrounding a sector that plays such an essential role in Europe’s rich heritage and future. The associations involved, which represent sectors ranging from animal health to feed, to breeding and animal farming through to farmers, aim to inform the public about the societal value of livestock production and its contribution to global challenges, offering an alternative narrative to current debates.
• AnimalhealthEurope – European manufacturers of animal medicines, vaccines and other animal health products • Avec – European Poultry Meat Sector • Clitravi – European Meat Processing Industry • Copa and Cogeca – European Farmers and European Agri-cooperatives • COTANCE – European Leather Industry • EDA – European Dairy Association • EFFAB – European Forum of Farm Animal Breeders • Euro Foie Gras – European Foie Gras industry • FEFAC – European Feed Manufacturers • FEFANA – European Specialty Feed Ingredients Industry • FUR EUROPE – European Fur Industry • UECBV – European Livestock and Meat Trades
EURACTIV Virtual Conference 27-01-2022 09:30 – 10:45am CET
The Farm to Fork strategy, which outlines several targets to green the EU’s agri-food sector, has sparked debate ever since its unveiling in May 2020.
The outcomes of some initial studies on the Farm to Fork’s impact concluded that the Farm to Fork’s goals are in reach but risk a significant reduction in EU food production and farmers’ income, underlining their fears about the strategy’s potential impact on the sector.
Environmental organisations have been quick to highlight the shortcomings of these. They say the studies do not consider the full range of benefits that more sustainable production would bring to the sector.
A main divide between the two sides is that industry wants an overall impact assessment of the Farm to Fork strategy, whereas environmental organisations believe that evaluating each measure in the strategy would be sufficient.
Join this EURACTIV Virtual Conference to discuss what we still do not know about the impact of the EU’s Farm to Fork strategy on farmers, consumers, and the environment. And what policy instruments will be needed to reach the targets?
14 October 2021: In 2020, the EU launched a set of communications on strategies for transitioning to a more sustainable food system. The two main strategies to achieve this goal are the Farm to Fork and the Biodiversity strategies, part of a greater agenda: the EU Green Deal. These strategies propose a number of quantified targets to support Europe’s long-term goal for climate neutrality by 2050. But the European Commission has so far not produced an impact assessment study, and the policy process has started in the European Parliament, where additional proposals have been added to the initial draft strategies. Various independent and academic studies have been published in meantime. These studies have limits and they do not replace the work that the Commission services should produce. However, they increase our knowledge, display complementary views and highlight common trends regardless of the model they use. This video gives a summary of their findings.
Yesterday, the European Parliament voted on its Farm to Fork own initiative report. Food chain actors acknowledge the signal sent by this vote but regret the climate in which the vote took place. We talked about everything but the actual means and solutions when it comes to addressing the multiple blind spots this strategy has created.
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.
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 impact assessment evaluating the impact of its strategy. The data overview presented by the Commission earlier this week would be a great starting point for such a study.
Agriculture and Progress – European Platform for Sustainable Agricultural Production Agri-Food Chain Coalition – European agri-food chain joint initiative AnimalHealthEurope – European Animal Medicines Industry AVEC – European Association of Poultry Processors and Poultry Trade CEFS – European Association of Sugar Manufacturers CEJA – European Council of Young Farmers CEMA – European Agricultural Machinery Industry CEPM – European Confederation of Maize Production CEVI – European Confederation of Independent Winegrowers CIBE – International Confederation of European Beet Growers Clitravi – Liaison Centre for the Meat Processing Industry in the European Union COCERAL – European association of trade in cereals, oilseeds, pulses, olive oil, oils and fats, animal feed and agrosupply Copa-Cogeca – European Farmers and Agri-Cooperatives CropLife Europe – Europe’s Crop Protection Industry EBB – European Biodiesel Board EDA – European Dairy Association EFFAB – European Forum of Farm Animal Breeders ELO – European Landowners’ Organization European Livestock Voice – European Platform of the Livestock Food Chain (with the support of Carni Sostenibili) Euro Foie Gras – European Federation of Foie Gras Euroseeds – European Seed Sector ePURE – European Renewable Ethanol Industry Fediol – European Vegetable Oil and Protein-Meal Industry Association FEFAC – European Feed Manufacturers’ Federation Fertilizers Europe – European Fertilizer Producers IBC – International Butchers’ Confederation UECBV – European Livestock and Meat Trades Union
Without a comprehensive impact assessment, we will not be celebrating the one-year anniversary of the Farm to Fork strategy.
Today marks one year to the day since the Farm to Fork strategy was presented in Brussels by the European Commission. However, we cannot celebrate its anniversary, as the strategy still raises too many questions in the European farming and agri-food community. A year of intense debate has only increased the number of our concerns.
We, the signatories of this declaration, do not have a single doubt that the Farm to Fork strategy with its targets will have a considerable impact on the whole agricultural value chain, from farmers to our food systems and to consumers throughout the Union. But most probably not on the ones initially hoped for or expected.
Let’s be perfectly clear, we are not opposed in essence to the approach proposed within the Farm to Fork strategy or the Green Deal. We are all conscious that our food system must integrate further measures to improve its sustainability as fast as possible while maintaining the highest quality standards and food affordability.
Nevertheless, not only will this strategy have an impact on the environmental quality of our agriculture, but it will also impact on our production capacity, our competitiveness, our imports and ultimately on consumer prices. As it has been demonstrated over the past year, there are also considerable paradoxes in the composition of those generalised objectives, and by the time these are widely understood, it will be too late. We must not shy away from the debate on these paradoxes. We must collectively discuss them because, even if there appears to be a collective disregard at EU-level these days, the stakes are too high.
A comprehensive impact assessment would have been the appropriate way to engage in a concrete discussion on the substance of the Farm to Fork strategy. Such a study was promised by Vice-President Frans Timmermans. However, although this was promised on many occasions in line with the principles of “good governance” of the Commission, we now know that such as assessment will not be carried out. Yet the Commission’s principles on the subject are clear, “An impact assessment is required for Commission initiatives that are likely to have significant economic, environmental or social impacts.(1) (…) Impact assessments collect evidence to assess if future legislative or non-legislative EU action is justified and how such action can best be designed to achieve desired policy objectives (2).” In the face of the challenges posed to our food security, this neglect on the part of the Commission is both incomprehensible and unacceptable.
Individual studies on the different objectives of the strategy are not sufficient. It is only by cumulating and cross-checking the different targets proposed in the strategy that one can realise the real challenges posed by the strategy. In the area of trade policy, the same Commission has had the courage to propose a comprehensive study of the complex cumulative impacts involved in the more than 60 trade agreements signed by the EU. So why shouldn’t this be possible for the Farm to Fork strategy? Why has the US government already conducted a study on our own flagship policy ?(3)
We are asking for the application of three common sense principles: to have a policy based on concrete data and scientific evidence that is in line with the better regulation principles, not on ideology and political stances; to start talking about concrete tools and technologies capable of creating enthusiasm in our farming community for this political project and finally to have the same level of ambition in the EU internal market vis-à-vis those international trade partners that don’t share the same ambitions.
AnimalHealthEurope – European Animal Medicines Industry Agriculture and Progress – European Platform for Sustainable Agricultural Production AVEC – European Association of Poultry Processors and Poultry Trade Ceettar – European Organisation of Agricultural, Rural and Forestry Contractors CEFS – European Association of Sugar Manufacturers CEJA – European Council of Young Farmers CEMA – European Agricultural Machinery Industry CEPM – European Confederation of Maize Production CEVI – European Confederation of Independent Winegrowers CIBE – International Confederation of European Beet Growers Clitravi – Liaison Centre for the Meat Processing Industry in the European Union COCERAL – European association of trade in cereals, oilseeds, pulses, olive oil, oils and fats, animal feed and agrosupply Copa-Cogeca – European Farmers and Agri-Cooperatives Cotance – European Confederation of National Associations of Tanners and Dressers EDA – European Dairy Association EFFAB – European Forum of Farm Animal Breeders ELO – European Landowners’ Organization ePURE – European Renewable Ethanol Industry Euromontana – European Association of Mountain Areas European Livestock Voice – European Platform of the Livestock Food Chain (with the support of its local partners CARNI SOSTENIBILI (IT) and SOMOS GANADERIA (ES)). Euroseeds – European seed sector Association FARM EUROPE – European Think Tank on Rural Economies FEAP – Federation of European Aquaculture Producers FEFAC – European Feed Manufacturers’ Federation FEFANA – European Association of Specialty Feed Ingredients and their Mixtures Fertilizers Europe – European Fertilizer Industry Association Euro Foie Gras – European Federation of foie gras IBC – International Butchers’ Confederation UECBV – European Livestock and Meat Trades Union
The Joint Declaration can be found here in DE, EN, ES, FR, IT, PL and RO.
13 October, 11:30-12:30 via Zoom
A lot is said about the role livestock plays in our food systems, and the Farm to Fork and Biodiversity strategies have been driving debates on what sustainable food systems and food production should look like in the future.
The strategies propose ambitious EU actions and targets to accelerate the transition to a fair, healthy and environmentally-friendly food system, while preserving food affordability and generating fairer economic returns.
But these proposals have raised many questions and generated several studies which look at their potential impact on our food systems, both within and outside the EU.
Watch our Dialogue between Scientists and an MEP to discuss findings from some of these impact analyses ahead of the upcoming vote in the European Parliament.
This webinar complements the Euractiv event supported by Croplife being held on 12 October which looks at impacts of the Farm to Fork strategy on crop-based agriculture.
Transparency note: The Kiel University study was funded by the Grain Club and other associations. More info and study link The Wageningen University & Research paper was funded by several members of European Livestock Voice. Link to Executive Summary
FARM TO FORK – IT IS TIME TO LISTEN TO WHAT THE DATA SAYS!
Food chain actors all agree with the main principles set out in the Farm to Fork strategy and are fully aware that constant and substantial improvement must be made to ensure a more sustainable approach to our food systems. Nevertheless, several recently published studies on the Farm to Fork strategy indicate that the current targets, if implemented as proposed, will come at a considerable cost for EU farmers and the viability of the entire European agribusiness sector.
The time for political messages about the Farm to Fork strategy has passed. It is now time to analyse the data that is currently available. In recent months, several key reports and studies have tried to assess and measure the impacts of the targets set by the European Commission when they presented the Farm to Fork and Biodiversity strategies in May 2020.
Studies conducted by the USDA , HFFA Research , the Joint Research Centre of the EU (JRC) , Kiel University as well as Wageningen University and Research (WUR) all conclude that there are several significant impacts, trade-offs and blind spots that urgently need to be considered by policy-makers in the EU (and beyond).
For example: • The JRC study predicts that the expected decrease of between 40 and 60% of GHG emissions from European agriculture resulting from the implementation of Farm to Fork targets will lead to European agricultural production, including its emissions, being outsourced to third countries. • The Kiel University study projects that Europe could become a net food importer, which is in direct contradiction with the open strategic autonomy promoted by the European Commission during the COVID crisis. • The USDA study concludes that the targets set in the Farm to Fork strategy could lead to 22 million people being subject to food insecurity.
Why is Europe not looking at the data?
These studies, which each use different methodologies and have different focal points and limitations, all complement each other. They all reach the same conclusions. EU agricultural production will decrease and quite drastically in some areas and for some products. For the cumulative impact of the targets, the latest WUR study shows an average production decline of between 10-20% with a drop of up to 30% for certain crops.
As regards livestock production, the study from the University of Kiel points to a 20% reduction in EU beef production and a 17% reduction for pork production on average. A further WUR policy paper (soon to be published) confirms an overall decrease in beef, pig and dairy production, leading not only to a price increase for EU consumers but also showing questionable effects on livestock farmers’ incomes.
The data clearly points to impacts on trade, on farmers’ incomes and ultimately on consumer prices. Changing the food system under these conditions will be more difficult, and imposing consumption taxes, as proposed by the European Parliament, could make it socially unjust.
All the actors in the agri-food chain are aware of the environmental and climate challenges that we are facing today. We are all committed to playing our part in the fight to mitigate the negative effects of climate change. European agricultural production is among the most resource and environmentally friendly production in the world. Nevertheless, European producers believe that with innovation and relevant support at the core of EU agricultural policy, farmers will continue to produce in an even more sustainable manner. We acknowledge society’s and policy-makers’ expectations in the realm of food production. However, a non-data based, political target will have deleterious effects on European agriculture. We must build solution-oriented policies based on the data we have to hand, with innovation being their cornerstone.
In order to start talking about solutions, we need to have a common understanding of the challenges that we face in pursuit of our Farm to Fork objectives. This common understanding should be based on a comprehensive and cumulative impact assessment conducted by the European Commission. The most recent Wageningen study, with its different scenarios, clearly shows that assessing the effects of Farm to Fork targets in isolation, as the Commission seems to envision doing from now on, will only give a partial picture of the cumulative reality faced by farmers and agri-food players on the ground.
We are just as eager as the Commission to end this debate on the necessity to carry out a cumulative impact assessment. We call for a comprehensive assessment because we want to understand where problems are likely to arise so that we can discuss the potential solutions.
Europe’s food production model, spearheaded by the Common Agricultural Policy, has been one of the greatest successes of the European Union. We do not understand the apparent attempt to hinder our progress and disregard our successes at a time when our trading partners are already talking about filling the production gaps left vacant by Europe.
In addition, if EU production decreases, as all researchers who have assessed the impact of the Commission’s current proposals clearly expect, then EU imports of agricultural raw materials and ingredients are bound to increase significantly, thus making the EU dependent on imports to feed its population. This would in turn pose several political and food safety risks for European consumers.
It is high time that the European Commission conduct a holistic impact assessment. The Farm to Fork deadline is looming. Eight years for the agricultural sector is not that long. We urgently need to see concrete proposals and a more in-depth discussion about the choices we are making. That said, this must be based on better data.
 Summary of results Scenario 4: red. pesticide and nutrient use, 10% set aside
Agriculture and Progress – European Platform for Sustainable Agricultural Production Agri-Food Chain Coalition – European agri-food chain joint initiative AnimalhealthEurope – European Animal Medicines Industry AVEC – European Association of Poultry Processors and Poultry Trade CEFS – European Association of Sugar Manufacturers CEJA – European Council of Young Farmers CEMA – European Agricultural Machinery Industry CEPM – European Confederation of Maize Production CEVI – European Confederation of Independent Winegrowers CIBE – International Confederation of European Beet Growers Clitravi – Liaison Centre for the Meat Processing Industry in the European Union COCERAL – European association of trade in cereals, oilseeds, pulses, olive oil, oils and fats, animal feed and agrosupply Copa-Cogeca – European Farmers and Agri-Cooperatives CropLife Europe – Europe’s Crop Protection Industry EBB – European Biodiesel Board EDA – European Dairy Association EFFAB – European Forum of Farm Animal Breeders ELO – European Landowners’ Organization European Livestock Voice – European Platform of the Livestock Food Chain Euro Foie Gras – European Federation of Foie Gras Euroseeds – European Seed Sector ePURE – European Renewable Ethanol Industry UECBV – European Livestock and Meat Trades Union FEFAC – European Feed Manufacturers’ Federation FEFANA – European Association of Specialty Feed Ingredients and their Mixtures Fertilizers Europe – European Fertilizer Producers IBC – International Butchers’ Confederation
The Joint Declaration can also be found here in DE, ES, FR, IT, PL and RO.
Join us for our event on the platform of EUNews, and in joint affiliation with Carni Sostenibili!
FOOD AND FARMING:
WHAT FUTURE FOR EUROPE?
The Farm to Fork strategy sets the general principles for the future of our food system but on what basis?
Claire Bury – EU Commission, Deputy Director General DG SANTE
Herbert Dorfmann – European Parliament, AGRI Rapporteur
Jytte Guteland – European Parliament, ENVI Committee
Pekka Pesonen – Secretary-General of Copa-Cogeca
Luigi Scordamaglia – President Assocarni
And moderator: Angelo di Mambro – Brussels correspondant for ANSA agency & Informatore Agrario
Be sure to register here for the event on 5th May from 15:00-16:30 CEST!
Does the Farm to Fork strategy offer more opportunities or obstacles for the European agri-food system?
Rome – Brussels, 06 May 2021 – The live stream meeting, “Food and Farming: what future for Europe?” was held yesterday afternoon. This deep-dive into the Farm to Fork Strategy promoted by Eunews in collaboration with Carni Sostenibili and European Livestock Voice served as an open dialogue between policy makers and the livestock value chain following the launch of the video appeal, “The 9 paradoxes of the Farm to Fork”. The European livestock sector is keen to forge a constructive dialogue with the EU institutions to ensure greater involvement in the legislative process for the strategy intended to guide EU agri-food policies in the coming decades.
“Our post-Covid-19 future will not – and must not – be simply ‘let’s go back to business as usual’. Each actor will have to play their role to successfully achieve the transition to sustainable food systems. Livestock is an essential sector of EU agriculture and is part of the solution, and I count on this sector to pursue its efforts towards sustainable production in line with the objectives of the Green Deal.” – said Claire Bury, Deputy Director General DG SANTE of the European Commission, who participated in the debate.
Luigi Scordamaglia, President of Assocarni and Italian representative for the Carni Sostenibili Association, spoke precisely on the risks and opportunities of the Farm to Fork strategy. “An extraordinary opportunity” – notes Scordamaglia – “but also a risk, namely that this green transition is not guided by an objective and rational approach, based on numbers and data, but is conditioned by ideological approaches and this would transform an opportunity into a defeat for producers but also for European consumers”. Concerning sustainability, which is increasingly the focal point in which the debate gets heated, President Scordamaglia recalled: “To those who think that one becomes sustainable by returning to using a wooden plough, I would like to point out that the results in sustainability achieved in Italy derive from being the second country in the world in the use of robotics and in the automation of the food sector. We are the eighth economy in the world for GDP, but only the third from last regarding CO2 emissions. This is the path to sustainability that we want”. – concluded Scordamaglia.
“I believe that the Farm to Fork strategy proposed by the Commission for agri-food chains is of high value due to the effective involvement of both consumers and operators. However, we must assess the impacts of this strategy principally from an economic and social perspective: this is important for citizens and especially for operators who are committed to guaranteeing accessibility to and affordability of food” declared Herbert Dorfmann, MEP, AGRI Committee, reiterating that “a scientific approach is essential to sustainability”.
On distant but not diametrically opposed positions MEP Jytte Guteland, from the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists & Democrats stressed the need for a change of pace also in the livestock sector in view of sustainability objectives. According to the MEP, the sector has not yet achieved this. “With regard to the Farm to Fork strategy there is a lot of sensitivity, but it should be recalled that we are going through a historic period with the Green Deal which represents a fundamental step for future generations. The direction on sustainability must be clear” – said Guteland – “although much has been done, there is still work to be done, but we can achieve our goals. Farmers today are the real heroes of everyday life because food is the source of life. However, we need a sustainable future for this sector, a new direction for Europe in the distribution of incentives that must be destined above all to those farmers who decide to orient practices towards sustainability”. And she concluded, “In summary we can say that farmers are not part of the problem but part of the solution”.
Finally, Pekka Pesonen, Copa – Cogeca Secretary General, who spoke on behalf of European Livestock Voice, the Association that brings together the European Livestock value chain associations, recalled the commitment in terms of sustainability of animal husbandry, underlining its economic value. Today, in fact, the sector represents about 40% of the entire European agricultural sector for a value of 170 billion Euro with 4 million employees. “What we need” – concluded Pesonen – “is for the European Union to implement policies that allow the agricultural sector to make the necessary changes to maintain our European de-centralized model of agriculture, a model that would sustain world-known culinary heritage, contribute to the wider economy in rural areas, support circularity and respond to the future expectations of consumers.”
Note to the Editors
European Livestock Voice is a multi-stakeholder group of like-minded EU partners united to return a balanced debate about a sector that is playing such an essential role in Europe’s rich heritage and future. The associations represent sectors ranging from animal health to feed, from breeding and animal farming to farmers; together they aim to inform the public about the social value of livestock production and its contribution to global challenges, offering another perspective in the ongoing debates.
Association Carni Sostenibili is a non-profit association that represents all the production chains dedicated to the processing and transformation of Italian meat (beef, pork and poultry), with the aim of promoting sustainable production and conscious consumption of meat and cured meats. Founded in 2012, the association has created a digital communication platform, supported by the publication of studies and research, to promote correct scientific information and its divulgation, regarding the environmental, economic and social sustainability of the entire meat supply chain.
This event was also supported by Somos Ganaderia. The Spanish version of this Press Release can be found here.
For further information, please contact: European Livestock Voice Florence Ranson firstname.lastname@example.org +32 (0) 477 49 26 90
25 March 2021 – The European livestock sector presented today “The 9 paradoxes of Farm to Fork”, a call to actively participate in the current sustainability challenge to develop and implement an effective and adequate Farm to Fork strategy for Europe. Born from an initiative of Carni Sostenibili and European Livestock Voice, the series of videos was launched simultaneously in 7 European countries and languages: Belgium, Italy, France, Spain, Germany, Portugal and Poland.
The videos highlight the fact that despite good intentions, the Farm to Fork strategy does not take into consideration the actual situation and challenges of the livestock sector. They reflect the will of the whole chain to be actively involved in the great green transition process, now in progress.
The paradoxes identified reflect misconceptions and prejudices surrounding the livestock sector in terms of the environment, health and the economy. They reveal inaccuracies in the understanding of: – The nutritional value of meat – The consistency of land use for livestock farming activities – The environmental sustainability of the European livestock chain – The economic impact of the sector – The protection of animal welfare – The use of natural vs chemical fertilizers – Job security and employment in rural areas – The gastronomic and cultural heritage of animal-source products – The security and availability of our food products
European Livestock Voice and Carni Sostenibili invite you to the launch of their series of videos: “The 9 paradoxes of Farm to Fork”, on Thursday 25 March, at 11am, broadcasted online from the Brussels Press Club. The EU Farm to Fork strategy is high in ambition, but Europe’s livestock sector fears it does not really take into consideration its farming traditions and the huge progress already achieved. EU livestock farmers are committed actors of change for increased sustainability, but they believe that the Farm to Fork approach is based on erroneous preconceptions. European Livestock Voice and the Italian sustainable meat project, Carni Sostenibili have identified a number of paradoxes in a series of short videos, to be made available simultaneously in 7 EU countries and languages*. The videos will be introduced by Birthe Steenberg, Secretary General of AVEC and representative of European Livestock Voice, and Prof. Giuseppe Pulina, Chairman of Carni Sostenibili, and followed by a Q&A session with the audience.We look forward to welcoming you to this very special event!
Join us for the second European Livestock Voice Debate!
In a jungle of labels, what is driving animal welfare practices?
28 January 2021 11:00 AM
Animal welfare is an essential preoccupation for all actors in the livestock sector, as well as for consumers, and has led to debates at various levels, both national and European, including in the Farm to Fork strategy. As a consequence, various policies, standards and labelling schemes have sprouted from different sources like producers, NGOs, national or EU institutions… This debate will look at the impact on actual animal welfare and consumer confidence.
Inês Ajuda, Manager of the farm team at Eurogroup for Animals
Denis Simonin, Senior Expert on animal welfare at the European Commission’s DG on Health and Food Safety
Peter Sandøe, Professor of bioethics at the University of Copenhagen since 1997
Trine Vig Tamstorf, Chief policy advisor for animal health and animal welfare at the Danish Agriculture and Food Council
Join us for the first-ever European Livestock Voice Debate: Is livestock really destroying the planet?
30 November 2020 from 2:00-3:15 PM – The livestock sector is blamed for all sorts of ailments, from CO2 emissions to unsustainable meat production, a supposedly « unhealthy » food. Numerous calls have been issued to curb livestock farming, meat consumption, etc. As we move to a greener future with a stronger focus on health, it’s time to examine both the pros and cons of livestock in a multifaceted debate.
European livestock sector unites to ‘burst’ the myths surrounding the sector
10 December2019 – Representatives from the European livestock sector gathered in front of the European Commission buildings in Brussels to address the danger of oversimplifying the debate around livestock and its role in European society. The flash action organised by European Livestock Voice and the Wallonian Farmers Association (FWA) echoes a number of concerns highlighted by the numerous protests that have taken place in different European countries in recent weeks. >> Read the full press release
Giving farmers a voice
20 November – In our latest activities we’ve been talking to some farmers, asking them what they think about peoples’ perceptions on livestock farming. In this video, Alexis Pugliese, a pig farmer from France talks about what he feels are the biggest misconceptions about his job. He also offers this thoughts on how farmers can take action to stop misinformation.
SUPPORTING THE CREATION OF AN EP INTERGROUP ON ‘LIVESTOCK & LIVESTOCK PRODUCTS’
13 November: European Livestock Voice and supporting organisations sent MEPs a joint letter and declaration of support for the creation of a European Parliamentary Intergroup on “Livestock & livestock products”.
10 October – As getting peoples’ attention in a super-charged Brussels can sometimes be difficult, we thought some adverts in the Brussels metro stations might be a good way to turn some heads and challenge some thinking around livestock production in Europe.
With an artist’s portrayal of what a future without livestock would look like or what potential alternatives could mean, the posters are intended to make people think a little further than a simple ‘cut’ and ‘replace’. Livestock is a key contributor to so many elements in our lives, some of which we are not even aware. The intention of these visuals is to open discussion and invite reflection on the subject.
One visual focuses on the link between biodiversity and livestock, as livestock production is often blamed for negative impacts on biodiversity, while its contribution to the bioeconomy or circular economy is often overlooked.
A second visual presents a village square with different businesses having a dependency on livestock production, with the alternative image depicting potential rural desertification as a consequence of a ‘livestock exit’.
The third visual focuses on the question of current alternatives to meat production and their potential impact which is often absent from the debates on the future of food.
We encourage people to share their real-life livestock stories too and to get involved with making sure that everyone can #MeattheFacts!
30 September – So after a few hiccups with uploading and some exchanges with Google over appropriate content – we’re just showing what others say – our campaign video is now live! Today it’s easier to say what we don’t want and what we don’t like. It’s easy to put forward an opinion and to hit the headlines with striking images. The problem is, we tend to forget all about the knock-on effects of those opinions…….
Please watch, like, share and encourage others to share. And don’t forget to use the hashtag #MeattheFacts!
Launched and live in the European Parliament!
25 September2019 – The livestock sector is today at the epicentre of public debates in Europe and beyond. These debates are now mainly dominated by interest groups who spread myths and radical views about livestock farming. Ever increasing on social media and in the press, these myths and opinions end up portraying a picture that is in stark contrast with the reality experienced and lived every day by thousands of European farmers and professionals on the ground. These debates have strong impacts on the views of European consumers on the role of animal products in their lifestyle choices and they push the livestock sector into an extremely defensive corner of society. This negatively affects the EU livestock farming model and policy framework, increasing the challenges faced by our farming communities to ensure their economic viability, generational renewal and their capacity to adapt to societal and environmental demands.
In this context, and for the first time at EU level, over a dozen livestock organisations have decided to come together to take joint action to elevate the “other side” of the story, necessary to restore balance and factual information on both the impact and the contribution of the European livestock sector. With this objective in mind, European Livestock Voice has developed its own information hub, an online portal reviewing the accuracy of the most frequently made statements about livestock production, consumption and its benefits:
NO – 1kg of beef does not require 15,000L of drinking water to be produced
YES – The average size for livestock farms in Europe is below 50 hectares and Europe remains a model of family farming
NO – Using land for animal feed does not necessarily compete with land for human food
YES – European farmers care for their animals as it is fully in their interest to do so.
We are convinced that the EU livestock farming model, based on diversified, local and family farm structures, is the backbone of the EU’s rural areas. It supports a great number of jobs and industries, it contributes to the circular approach within the EU bioeconomy, while also ensuring a steady and affordable supply for sufficient, safe and nutritious food, as well as many other products and by-products, needed for a healthy lifestyle or Europe’s cultural and creative industries.
livestock farming from Europe – a
“Livestock Exit” – would have severe consequences. Europe without livestock
would lose essential pasture lands, face increased forest fires, lack greatly
in organic fertilisers, green energy and many other essential raw materials
while contributing to an increased rural exodus. At the same time, it would
mean the need to rely on imports for animal products, with virtually no control
over the production standards and increasing the demand for fossil fuel-based
To support the launch of this initiative two newly appointed MEPs, also livestock farmers, Alexander Bernhuber (EPP, AT) and Jeremy Decerle (Renew Europe, FR) have decided to lead the debate in the new European Parliament by hosting the launch event of our platform today in Brussels.
For MEP Alexander Bernhuber the situation is clear “Today’s debate about livestock farming is often held on a lack of knowledge within the society. The gap between consumers and producers is getting bigger and bigger. European farmers produce at worldwide highest animal welfare standards. Nowadays the challenge is to communicate the essential work of our farmers via several channels to the consumer. European Livestock Voice created a significant platform to brighten this issue and fight against disinformation at European level. It is important to spread fact-based knowledge about today’s livestock farming within the media. Hence, I strongly support this initiative.”
On his side, MEP Jérémy Decerle commenting on the initiative said that “As a breeder of Charolais cows, but also as a Member of the European Parliament (COM AGRI), I can only welcome the launch of such a European platform, specifically dedicated to livestock farming. It could help to dispel some preconceived ideas about this profession and bring a little pragmatism into the debates. At a time when Europeans want to eat healthier and more local food, but also to better preserve their environment, farmers can be part of the solution rather than part of the problem, and the search for solutions begins with a comprehensive and rational look at the situation.“
MEP Clara Eugenia Aguilera García on her side commented “This initiative is a positive signal helping us in the European Parliament in our work to defend the EU livestock sector. The European livestock community works hard to ensure quality, sustainability and animal health and welfare. It has to be recognized while keeping a level playing field. Given the ever-increasing number of misconceptions, more work is needed to restore a constructive and rational discussion around a sector so important to our rural areas, our environment and our future.”
#MeattheFacts is ready for launch
European Livestock Voice is launching its first campaign with an aim of bringing some balance to the debate around our livestock sector which is playing centre-stage to a a large number of assumptions, accusations and far from accurate information amplifying on social media.
#MeattheFacts invites interested parties including EU policymakers and the press to check out some of the factual information we have compiled to respond to the main misinformation we have found online about livestock production in Europe.
You can also follow our hashtag #MeattheFacts on social media to find out what we’re doing. Feel free to share your real stories about livestock if you’re connected in any way!