The main architect of the EU Farm to Fork Green Deal, Commissioner and Vice President Frans Timmermans from the Netherlands, was under pressure on Tuesday as he addressed one of the world’s largest agri-conferences held by the Friends of the Countryside/European Landowners in Brussels.
Commissioner Timmermans repeated his policy objective of halving the use of pesticides, greatly reducing the use of synthetic fertilisers and the use of imported feedstuffs to feed animals rather than humans.
However, it is clear that there is a reaction against the more extreme of his views, especially in the context of the Ukrainian war that has raised the whole issue of food security and food prices in public and political consciousness not seen since Europe achieved its long term objective of food self-sufficiency back in the early 1980s.
He again attacked the distribution of EU payments, repeating the assertion that 80% of the payments are going to 20% of farmers.
Timmermans made a plea that the EU should be guided by science and contrasted the speed of the development of COVID-19 vaccines with the slow uptake of measures to tackle climate change and greenhouse gas emissions in agriculture.
He pointed out the rapid switch to renewable energy production in Europe, but seemed to see no inconsistency in his refusal to take notice of the impact assessments on the effects on European food security of his fertiliser and plant protection proposals.