European consumers must choose to support sustainable farming in their food choices, the European Commissioner for Agriculture has said.

Speaking at the EU’s Farm2Fork conference, Janusz Wojciechowski said that society will pay more and more attention to how farmers produce food.

“But, as citizens, we must also pay attention to how we consume food, and we must ask ourselves if you are supporting sustainable farming in our food choices. Because to build sustainable food systems, we all have choices to make, and we all have work to do,” he told the virtual conference on Thursday.

“And if we share the work, we can also share the rewards. The rewards of safe and nutritious food, with high standards for animal welfare, of thriving family farms and vibrant rural areas, and have a safe climate, healthy soils and rivers, and rich biodiversity.”

Wojciechowski said the European Commission is developing sustainability chapters for its trade deals “with an emphasis on securing close cooperation and obtaining foreign commitments.”

The Commissioner said that Europe must ensure sustainable food systems by working with intelligence and innovation.

Referring to scientific developments, the Polish Commissioner highlighted the Horizon 2020 research programme, which he said had developed six new vaccines against major livestock pathogens, helping farmers to improve animal welfare and reduce antimicrobials, saving on production costs.

He added that Horizon Europe will see a further €9bn invested towards agriculture, food and the bio-economy.

He warned of “grave challenges” that would face the European environment, farming sector and society if the Farm to Fork strategy objectives are not carried out.

“Our targets include reducing the negative impact of and overuse of antimicrobials, plant protection products and nutrients, and developing the positive impacts of organic farming and short supply chains,” he said.

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