The EU has presented its Farm to Fork (F2F) strategy for agriculture that will be the blueprint for Irish farmers for the remainder of this decade and beyond.
It is the template for agriculture’s contribution to the EU Green Deal, the theme of this Commission which has the objective of making the EU the world’s first carbon-neutral continent by 2050.
For farmers the theme is about sustainability and the environment more than productive agriculture, though food supply and security are mentioned.
The EU also wants 25% of EU agricultural land to be put under organic farming practices by 2030
The headline-grabbing issues are a plan to reduce pesticide use by 50% and fertiliser use by at least 20% between now and 2030 as well as reducing the use of antimicrobials in veterinary medicine by 50% and reserving some for exclusively human use.
The EU also wants 25% of EU agricultural land to be put under organic farming practices by 2030.
There is a strong focus on the diet of EU citizens and the strategy will review its support for EU meat promotion in favour of enhancing support for “sustainable production and consumption”. It is also going to “strictly assess” any proposal for coupled payments in strategic plans submitted by member states, the structure for delivery of the next CAP.
The strategy has an ambition to target “income support to farmers who need it and who deliver on the green ambition, rather than to entities and companies who merely own farm land”.
It also gives an example of a “new green business model”. This is where farmers who remove CO2 from the atmosphere and contribute to the climate neutrality get rewarded.
The Commission is working on a method to pay farmers for carbon sequestration, through the CAP and private market.
What is also notable is that this F2F strategy isn’t being led by the Commissioner for Agriculture
The strategy also sets out how the EU plans to level the playing field for farmers. The Commission wants to include sections in all trade deals that would require products being imported from third countries to meet similar standards on sustainability and safety.
What is also notable is that this F2F strategy isn’t being led by the Commissioner for Agriculture. It is in fact being led by the Commissioner for Health and Food Safety Stella Kyriakides.
For analysis and what it means for Irish farmers, see this week’s IFJ print edition tomorrow and online.