The European Commission has ambitious new plans to cut farmers’ use of pesticides, fertilizer and antimicrobials while also boosting organic production over the next decade.
Under a pair of new proposals, the EU wants to cut the use of pesticides on farms and antimicrobials in medicated feed by 50% while also reducing fertilizer usage by 20% by 2030.
The new goals, laid out in a pair of publications this week — the Farm to Fork Strategy and EU Biodiversity Strategy — are intrinsic to the EU’s broader European Green Deal commitments that aim to turn “climate and environmental challenges into opportunities” and make the bloc of countries climate-neutral by 2050.
The European Crop Protection Association said it isn't opposed to the goals, but they should be "realistic targets reflecting the results of an impact assessment," ECPA Director General Géraldine Kutas said.
"A reduction rate of 50% by 2030 is not realistic and will not have the desired effect of having a more sustainable food production model in Europe," she said. "The objectives presented today should be taking the farming industry on a journey to transform, not without sacrifices, but in collaboration with all parties involved in producing our food."
European consumers will eventually be able to see the results of the transformation under the new farm restrictions. That’s because the EU plans to mandate new “front-of-pack” labeling that lists “nutritional, climate, environmental and social aspects of food products.”
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“We must move forward and make the EU's food system a driving force for sustainability,” said European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety Stella Kyriakides. “The Farm to Fork Strategy will make a positive difference across the board in how we produce, buy and consume our food that will benefit the health of our citizens, societies and the environment.”
The Commission is promising that all of this will add up to increased profits for European farmers by creating “a stronger connection” to domestic consumers and increased demand from international markets.
“At the heart of the Green Deal, the Biodiversity and Farm to Fork strategies point to a new and better balance of nature, food systems and biodiversity; to protect our people's health and well-being, and at the same time to increase the EU's competitiveness and resilience,” said Frans Timmermans, executive vice president for the European Green Deal. “These strategies are a crucial part of the great transition we are embarking upon.”
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