A Wageningen University and Research (WUR) impact assessment shows that achieving the EU Farm to Fork (F2F) targets will lead to a loss of production in the EU.

WUR assessed the impact of F2F and Biodiversity strategy objectives for sustainable crop production under four scenarios:

  • A 50% reduction in the use of pesticides and hazardous pesticides.
  • A 50% reduction in nutrient losses and a 20% reduction in the use of fertilisers.
  • Moving 25% of land into organic production.
  • Combination of 50% reduction in pesticides, 50% reduction in nutrient losses and 20% reduction in fertiliser use, plus moving 10% of land into high diversity landscape features.
  • The study was based on 10 crops: wheat, rapeseed, sugar beet, maize, apples, tomatoes, grapes (wine), olives, citrus and hops, grown in seven member states including Finland, Poland, Germany, France, Spain, Italy and Romania.

    Scenario analysis

    In scenario one, the study found that there would be a drop in production of 9%, price increases of up to 8% in olives and an overall reduction in quality.

    With scenario two, the loss of production is up to 15% on average, rising to 25% for apples in Poland.

    Moving to organic farming for 25% of land, as in scenario three, shows up to 10% loss of yield and an increase of price by up to 13%. Other categories would be less impacted.

    For scenario four, the research found a reduction of between zero and 30% across the crops surveyed, with up to 30% for apples, but hardly any loss for sugar beet.

    The financial cost of scenario 1 is estimated at €6bn, scenario 2 €8bn, scenario 3 €3.4bn and scenario 4 is €12bn.

    Wider implications

    The report also considered the impact of replacing lost production of these crops in the EU. According to WUR, it would mean the allocation of 2.5m hectares externally to produce the products for the EU to import, as well as 4.4m extra hectares to offset the availability of EU exports of these products.


    This is the latest piece of work to explore the consequences of the EU Farm to Fork strategy and Biodiversity Strategy targets.

    It doesn’t address the major categories of interest to Irish farmers of meat and dairy, though these have been already addressed by USDA and EU Joint Research Council studies. Like the USDA study, it is challenged by the European Commission as it doesn’t take account of the mitigating factors that will be part of the next CAP.

    Both have indicated loss in production and, in the case of USDA, the increase in value by EU going it alone with this strategy leaves farmers worse off, because it doesn’t compensate for the loss in volume.

    The WUR highlights a further angle with specific numbers in relation to crops. It shows the consequence for other global producers if Europe imports replacements for products no longer produced in the EU, plus the need for extra land outside the EU to offset the loss of production.

    The almost 7m hectares required for the crops studied in this research would be very significantly added to if the loss of EU meat and dairy production was added to the mix.

    This should be a wake-up call to EU policy makers. We are seeing the outworking of energy policy to shut down what is considered dirty production in Europe to replace it from the outside, as renewables aren’t yet ready to provide an internal replacement.

    The current direction of travel with Farm to Fork and the Green Deal risks doing the same with food, with consequences even greater for poorer countries around the world.

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