A study requested by the European Parliament's AGRI committee has said that in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) worse-case scenario on climate change, farming would intensify in northern European regions to counteract the drop in food production resulting from desertification and drought in southern farming regions.

Higher crop yields would be expected in Ireland, but from a greater reliance on purchased inputs under the scenario's modelling.

The demand for land and water would see the prevalence of livestock farming decrease under the scenario, with meat consumption expected to drop as consumer demands would shift.

The number of farms in the Mediterranean would drop and farmland in low-lying areas would be subject to flooding from rising sea levels.

The remaining farmland in Europe would see conflicts between different land uses, the study found.

Reacting to an external shock

The study also modelled the effects that would be expected to be seen in farming in the aftermath of an external shock, such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

Consumers’ awareness of “eco-friendly, regional, seasonal products” would likely increase in the case of an external shock to EU agriculture, with consumers having a more favoured perception of locally-produced food in such a scenario.

Locally-produced food would also benefit from food security concerns coming to the fore.


The regular trade of agricultural goods across borders would also likely suffer if a serious external shock was experienced across farming systems.

The volume of agri-food goods imported and exported would drop in the case of a serious disturbance, potentially shortening supply chains, the report found.

Lower numbers of seasonal farm workers would be available in the overall farm labour supply should the sector be rocked by unforeseen events that disturb the movement of workers.

Improving the attractiveness of farm employment to local seasonal workers would be required in such cases for sufficient labour to be sourced to fill the gap left by the workers with an impaired mobility to regions requiring employment.