Dozens of environmental and other non-government organizations are trying to head off a possible re-evaluation of the European Union's Farm to Fork Strategy to address the impact of the war in Ukraine on food supplies.
“This tragic situation that is destroying towns and lives, will need our solidarity and support,” the NGOs like Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, Compassion in World Farming, Climate Justice and the Pesticide Action Network write in a letter dispatched to President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen and other officials. “We ask you to address this immediate crisis without undermining the environmental and social progress to which you committed in the European Green Deal.”
The groups say they felt compelled to object after hearing European Agriculture Commissioner Janusz Wojciechowski speak last week.
“If food security is in danger, then we need to have another look at the objectives (of Farm to Fork) and possibly correct them,” Wojciechowski said. “I think we are in that situation now, which is why there’s a need for analysis.”
Before Russia invaded, cutting off Ukraine’s ability to export and making it extremely difficult to farm, Ukraine was forecast by USDA to export 24 million metric tons of wheat and 33.5 million tons of corn for the 2021-2022 marketing year.
The EU’s Farm to Fork, part of the overall European Green Deal, would overhaul the way its 27 nations farm and produce food by cutting the use of pesticides on farms by 50%, reducing fertilizer usage by 20% and requiring that 25% of its farmland shift to organic.
But Copa-Cogeca, which represents European farmers and cooperatives, says European farmers need to concentrate on producing more corn, wheat, sunflower and other crops to make up for the gap that is being created because Ukrainian farmers can’t export their crops.
“A paradigm shift is needed in the way Brussels thinks about agriculture, starting with the objectives set out in the Farm to Fork,” Copa and Cogeca said Sunday.
USDA's undersecretary for farm production and conservation, Robert Bonnie, told Agri-Pulse that he agrees.
“We were talking about these issues around productivity before (the Russian invasion of Ukraine),” Bonnie said on the sidelines of the Commodity Classic, which is taking place in New Orleans. “If you take a chunk of commodities out of the market it becomes even more important. We’ve got to feed the world … and we’ve got to reduce greenhouse gases. We have to understand that we can do both.”