EU Farm to Fork Strategy: How reasonable is the turmoil predicted by USDA?

We are pleased to welcome this guest post by Dr Yelto Zimmer, who is the coordinator of the agri benchmark Cash Crop Network at the Thünen Institute, Germany. Comments can be emailed directly to yelto.zimmer@agribenchmark.net.

The US agricultural ministry (USDA) recently published a report on the likely consequences if the EU Commission’s Farm to Fork (F2F) Communication were to be put in place. In this paper, the Commission proposes a set of measures that are supposed to lead to lower greenhouse gas emission in European agriculture and improve the overall environmental and public health performance of the sector.

Even in the modest USDA scenario, the projected outcome from F2F would be substantial turmoil of EU agriculture and even some significant changes in global agriculture.

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Agriculture in the European Green Deal

The Commission published its Communication on the European Green Deal in mid-December 2019. Previously flagged in Commission President von der Leyen’s Political Guidelines for the new Commission, it defines the key political objectives of the new Commission for the next five years.

The headline commitment is to make Europe the first climate-neutral continent by 2050 (while conflating the EU with Europe may seem like over-reach by the Commission, it should be remembered that other European countries, most recently Switzerland, either participate in or are linked to the EU Emissions Trading Scheme and the UK government’s preference is that it will remain associated after Brexit).

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The start of von der Leyen’s Commission Presidency

Ursula von der Leyen, then the German Minister for Defence, emerged as the surprise choice of the European Council leaders at their meeting on 21 June 2019 following their inability to agree on any of the Spitzenkandidaten. After an amazingly short period to read herself into the brief, she presented her Political Guidelines for the new Commission and summarised these in her oral presentation as part of her confirmation hearings in front of the European Parliament on July 16 2019.

Leaders of four of the Parliament’s political groups (the EPP, S&D, Renew Europe and the Greens, sometimes called the pro-EU parties to distinguish them from the more Eurosceptic parties both on the left and on the right – it is a handy tag though I am not comfortable using that description which is inherently exclusionary) had attempted to come together and, for the first time, to forge a common political platform and a common candidate for the Commission Presidency.

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