The EU has been grappling with four major challenges affecting the future of food, farming and land use: climate change, biodiversity loss, human health and the structure and functioning of the food system, made worse by increasing energy and input prices. The Russian invasion of Ukraine made a bad situation worst leaving rural businesses to grapple with an unprecedented situation. To date, the Commission has been focusing on the first three, with biodiversity taking centre stage, as the main route to tackle climate change and health issues. This is a questionable move, that focuses on conservation measures and a return to the past, rather than future-proofing our production systems and land management. There is no one size fits all solution to deal with a generally unpredictable multifaceted situation. We must invest in ways and tools to adapt to climate change and biodiversity loss while taking into account the structural limitations of our current economic models, which squeeze the primary production, the ones asked to do always more while in the weakest position to do so, while other actors are left off the hook.
There is an unhelpful rush toward proposing ambitious and specific targets for pesticide reduction (Sustainable Use Regulation) and conservation areas (Nature Restoration) before scalable solutions are on the market for the first, and before there is clarity on what, where and how we are to restore ecosystems. There is still no proper analysis of the impacts of what is being proposed, made more worrisome if we consider the combined pressure of the different strategies also announced in the Green Deal. Adding to the pressure, our main global partners have already decided to go about it differently.
Thierry de l’Escaille, Secretary General of the ELO said: “Land managers are prepared to support a new vision for the food system and land use that is adapted to climate change, but we need reassurance that the conditions for them to have viable businesses are respected”. How this is to be done and how it will be paid for must be properly explained. A range of support policies and tools, in addition to the CAP, will have to be brought to bear coherently.
Read the ELO's position on the Sustainable Use Regulation (SUR) here.
Read the ELO's position on Nature Restoration here.
11/05/2020: The EU Green Deal and its forthcoming strategies - Are we ready for higher food prices?
Full statement in EN here.
Full statement in FR here.
Press Release here.