The targets in the Farm to Fork and biodiversity strategies for farming are “aspirational” and subject to impact assessments, the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Agriculture and Rural Development Wolfgang Burtscher has said.
He told an Irish Farmers Journal and the European Commission representation in Ireland webinar on Thursday that the roll-out of the strategies two weeks ago is only the beginning of a discussion.
“Firstly, these targets are aspirational and will be subject to impact assessments … it will also be subject to permanent monitoring as regards the consequences of the implementation of this with regard to food security and also with regard to farmers’ income,” he said.
When asked by Irish Farmers Journal editor Justin McCarthy if an impact assessment has been carried out on converting 25% of land to organics, Burtscher said that one of the questions that the Commission has constantly received is whether it has looked at the consequences of the Farm to Fork and biodiversity strategies.
“We have done quite a lot of forecasting in the context of our agricultural outlook conferences where different scenarios have been addressed.
“We have received advice from the IFOAM, who represents the European organic farming [sector], that targets [which we retained] are achievable, provided that the point we have just said, that our citizens our consumers are aware enough of the consequences of their eating behaviour on the environment.
“I think we've also made it clear that all these targets are aspirational targets and in pursuing these targets we will very closely assess the consequences on food security, on farmers’ incomes and on affordability of prices.
“So I think as I said, this is the starting point of a discussion, the direction is the right direction, we have to improve the rates of organic farming if we want to be more sustainable in order to protect biodiversity and to [mitigate against] climate change,” he said.
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