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  • Author: Jonathan English, Strategic Projects, Bord Bia - The Irish Food Board

    EU Commission Farm to Fork Strategy

     

    The EU Commission’s Farm to Fork strategy as well as the EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030 were released on Wednesday the 20th of May and they include key policy developments for sustainable agriculture. The aim of the Farm to Fork Strategy is to move towards food systems that stimulate dietary changes beneficial for health, decreasing the impacts on the environment and climate, while leaving no one behind. As my colleague reported on a few weeks ago, the impact of COVID-19 will also have an impact on this strategy.

     

    It puts most of the burden of the transition on farmers, fishers and aquaculture producers which is to have a pivotal role to play in making food systems sustainable. To do so, it intends to create incentives through different means (e.g. the CAP) to help them change their practices and current tools to more sustainable ones.

     

    Food Security

    • Food security is the cornerstone of the “farm to fork strategy” and it is now higher on the strategy because of the COVID-19 crisis. The European Commission has published a specific action plan to avoid any challenges to the functioning of food systems as it recognises that any challenges may slow the production and limit distribution.

     

    • Biodiversity is also crucial for safeguarding EU and global food security. Biodiversity loss threatens our food systems, putting our food security and nutrition at risk.

     

    • Investing in nature protection and restoration will also be critical for Europe’s economic recovery from the COVID-19 crisis. The EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030 will be fundamental to food security moving forward.

     

    Sustainable Food Production

    • The most important principles and objectives of the strategy focuses on reducing dependency on pesticides and antimicrobials by 50%, reducing the use of fertilisers by 20%, increasing organic farming practices by 25%, improve animal welfare, and reverse biodiversity loss.

     

    • There are already concerns from experts on the pesticide targets as should they be cut by 50 percent by 2030, the data for measuring these targets is weak as a result of what the Commission has collected on the quantities of chemicals being sprayed on Europe's crops.

     

    • The strategy also proposes new green business models which aims to reward sustainable farming practices that remove CO2 from the atmosphere with either CAP payments and or public or private initiatives. In line with the Circular Economy Action Plan, the Commission will develop a regulatory framework for the certification of carbon removals. The CAP will be essential to achieving these strategy targets on the farm but also further down the value chain with the introduction of healthy, sustainable diets.

     

    Research and Innovation Investments

    • The Commission is committed to creating several lines of R&I programmes and other funding mechanisms that support the objectives of the Green Deal. Through the Invest EU fund, investments in the agro-food sector will also be fostered, especially for SMEs.

     

    Global Transition

    • The EU will support a global transition to sustainable agri-food systems with the aim to export its good practices of its trade partners. Therefore, the Commission will develop Green Alliances on sustainable agri-food systems which will be based on the specificities of each country. This will bring changes to the programming guidance for cooperation with third countries in the period 2021-2027.

     

    Targets

    • The Farm to Fork Strategy has also set targets covering sustainability across the entire food chain. There are targets on sustainable marketing targets, a sustainable food logo, origin indication for milk and for milk and meat as ingredient, and commitments for sustainable food processing and retail practices among others.

     

    Implications for Bord Bia

    The most relevant measures can be expected from 2021 which means that the Commission will start launching public consultations in several areas as from Q4 of this year. In order to support the introduction of the Farm to Fork Strategy the EU Commission encourages Member States to integrate food sustainability (including food waste prevention) in National Energy and Climate Plans (NECPs) to support achievement of climate targets.

     

    Each member state will be required to implement some of these actions from the Farm to Fork strategy on an individual basis. Bord Bia is well positioned to align to some of these actions as Origin Green enables us to focus on the sustainable production of agriculture through our Quality Assurance schemes SBLAS and SDAS in particular. As a marketing agency we are already successful in promoting the sustainable production of agriculture. The Origin Green Charter also enables us to seek commitments for sustainable food processing and retail practices outlined under this strategy’s action plan. The new Green Alliances on sustainable foods systems will also play an important part in the EU’s partnerships and will encourage and enable the development of comprehensive, integrated responses, benefiting Bord Bia because of the existence of Origin Green. We already have a space in labelling with the Quality Assurance Mark but new plans on labelling and in particular Geographical Indications will really benefit Irish food, drinks and horticulture products in our export markets moving forward.