Europe is committed to becoming the world’s ﬁrst climate-neutral continent by 2050. The European Green Deal addresses environmental sustainability, protection of natural resources and the responsible utilisation of resources.
The main role of the Green Deal is to ensure a smooth transition towards sustainable growth, since decarbonising the economy will be an important source of development for the future.
As part of this transition, the Farm to Fork strategy is an essential strategic component for ensuring sustainability in the sense that the agricultural sector together with rural areas represent the foundation for the health and wellbeing of EU citizens.
The EU is one of the most important actors in the international trade of agri-food products. I want to underline the fact that European products are characterised by their high quality, appropriate safety standards and high nutrient content.
Our key objective is to become the main player of sustainability in the food system from a global perspective.
“Sufficient funding for CAP for 2021-2027 must be provided”
In the context of a rapidly growing world population, the European food supply chain should meet all the needs of this sector and provide sufficient, affordable and high-quality food that corresponds to a healthy diet with less impact on the environment and climate.
However, at present, food chain processes (production, storage, processing, distribution and consumption) do not work according to the ideal model due to various factors.
The food supply chain in the EU system is still facing challenges such as demographic trends, consumption behaviours and climate change plus other issues that have consequences (such as food waste) and long-term effects (decline of biodiversity, cancer, obesity).
In this context, the Farm to Fork strategy (F2F) aims to reduce any imbalances that may occur in the food chain.
This is the case whether we are talking about the processes of production, transport, distribution, marketing or consumption or whether we analyse it from the regional, national, or European perspective.
But how do we achieve this goal? Firstly, we consider that at EU level it is necessary to ensure coherence and complementarity between the agriculture, ﬁsheries, environment, transport, health and energy sectors.
Isolated strategies, strictly focused on developing a policy segment, cannot achieve any tangible results. For example, issues arising in the ﬁeld of agriculture cannot be solved only throughout the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) as long as we don’t have a larger and multi-sectoral approach.
Thus, common actions must be carried out in close cooperation between EU Member States and the EU institutions by involving citizens, stakeholders, researchers, as well as international partners, if appropriate.
Secondly, we must ensure that sufficient funding for the CAP from 2021-2027 will be provided to reduce waste, preserve biodiversity, invest in research and modern technologies, ﬁght against climate change and protect the environment.
“The European food supply chain should meet all the needs of the sector”
In this context, we should adopt measures to reward farmers for programmes which aim to increase their climate performance, store carbon in the soil, develop nutrient management and promote low emissions targets.
EU farmers play a key role in this context: they are one part of the solution for the success of the F2F strategy. They have to receive necessary funding to ﬁght and adapt to climate change, such as investing in the transition to more sustainable agricultural systems.
Thirdly, it is necessary to have national strategic plans to ensure compliance with the Farm to Fork strategy.
These plans should include, among other things, the use of sustainable practices (such as agro-ecology, organic farming, agro-forestry and high animal welfare standards) plus the limited use of chemical pesticides, fertilisers and antibiotics.
Furthermore, it is important to stress that all actors throughout the food chain should beneﬁt from new opportunities and new sustainable investments. We have to be aware of the challenges that may arise in the entire food chain, from business adaptation models to changing consumer preferences.
Concerning the possible outcomes of international trade agreements, the F2F strategy aims to build a truly long-term vision for sustainable and competitive food systems while promoting the reciprocity of EU production standards in trade agreements.
EU consumers consider a top priority of the CAP to be providing safe, healthy and quality food and have also raised concerns about the origin of food and its environmental footprint.
With this in mind, implementation of the F2F strategy should consider the introduction of consumer-friendly product information labels that, for instance, would offer the possibility to trace a product through the food supply chain and indicate its impact on the climate and the environment.
In conclusion, increasing natural capital, reducing food waste, generating sustainable, safe, accessible agri-products, preserving biodiversity and reducing our environmental impact will, I believe, be the main beneﬁts of the F2F strategy.
Together with other actions highlighted in the Green Deal, the F2F strategy can contribute to ensuring the wellbeing and prosperity of European society – while also saving the environment.