How many more studies on the impact of the Farm to Fork Strategy are needed before a real debate starts in Brussels?

Earlier this week a new study on the possible consequences of the implementation of the Farm to Fork Strategy (F2F) was published by the University of Kiel (DE). One more report that confirms the massive consequences that the Commission's flagship strategy could have on our EU food production, our farms, and the cohesion of our rural areas. Confirming a JRC technical report very discretely released during mid-summer, this new study also highlights the massive carbon leakage that could result from the target-oriented approach of F2F, leading the authors to say that 'The F2F Strategy is not effective against climate change!'

 

More than a year after the Commission launched its F2F, an official study is still missing, pushing various universities and stakeholders to assess its potential impact. In recent weeks, studies have begun to multiply, indicating similar trends that should be of concern beyond the farming community ranks.

 

On the production side, as all studies, this new report considers that the F2F Strategy would lead to a significant decline in production. For the authors, it would range from -20% for beef, -6.3% for milk as well as -21.4% and -20% for cereals and oilseeds, respectively, throughout the EU. Like all previous studies, the authors anticipate significant price increases. The strongest price effects could be observed for beef with an increase of +58%, followed by pork with a +48% increase then by raw milk with an approximate +36% increase. Price increases for crops would vary between +15% for fruits and vegetables, +18% for oilseeds and +12.5% for cereal. On trade, the conclusion from Christian-Albrechts University is also crystal clear: if all F2F measures are simultaneously implemented, the "EU net export position for cereals and beef would revert to a net import position".

 

As for the JRC study, this new report is anticipating a GHG-emissions reduction in the range of a -29% reduction of the EU agricultural global warming potential. However, the authors consider that the strategy will not be effective from a climate point of view. On the one hand, the authors consider that the strategy will lead to a reduction of CO2 storage in the LULUCF-sector in the EU by 50 million tonnes of CO2eq while the relocation of our production to third countries would lead to additional GHG-emissions of 54.3 million tonnes CO2eq. These two mechanisms combined would neutralise the hoped-for effect of the EU strategy on the effective reduction of agricultural emissions.

The researchers' conclusion should be a wake-up call to European policy makers, 'The F2F Strategy itself does not yet correspond to a consistent agricultural policy strategy. Individual F2F measures do correspond rather to specific production restrictions which are not yet providing a consistent agricultural policy framework designed to achieve an effective and efficient implementation of the Green Deal's goals in agriculture.'

 

This study, like the previous ones, has limitations as the effects of the F2F Strategy will be numerous and are difficult to grasp in a single modelling tool. However, why were these models not developed before announcing quantified targets? Why has the Commission not yet carried out an impact assessment of this strategy, enabling us to discuss solutions on a concrete basis? Why is the European Parliament preparing to vote in plenary on even more restrictive measures without even having measured the additional impact?

 

Reacting to the new study, Christiane Lambert, President of COPA, declared, "The EU farming community is committed to the necessary transitions and everywhere initiatives are multiplying locally and globally. However, we are now facing a real problem concerning the method in the way the F2F is being established in Brussels. The European Commission or the European Parliament cannot ignore those publications and the social, economic, and environmental consequences they imply. We cannot accept a counterproductive target-oriented approach of F2F. We were struck this week by the fact that agriculture was not even mentioned in the State of the Union speech. The Commission must open a real dialogue with its farming community, work on concrete solutions if we expect to find collective answers, on fundamental issues of carbon leakage, food sovereignty and the fair distribution of efforts. " 

 

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