‘Farm to fork’ strategy must serve up fairer and greener farming – NGOs respond to Green Deal

The European Commission has answered people’s demands for much more action to address the climate emergency, nature loss, pollution, and inequality with its flagship Green Deal – but how does it fare when it comes to food and farming?

Greenhouse gases from agriculture continue to rise – and this climate-unfriendly farming system is subsidised by the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).

The CAP has long been criticised by civil society groups for both harming the very nature we need to produce our food and failing to deliver decent livelihoods for farmers.

In the Green Deal, the Commission has committed to publishing a ‘Farm to Fork’ Strategy next spring which it says will strengthen efforts to tackle climate change, protect the environment and preserve biodiversity.

Ploughing ahead with reform

But green groups warn that while this strategy could be a crucial opportunity to look at all aspects of how food production impacts people and planet, it will be meaningless if the CAP is not reformed.

Celia Nyssens, agriculture policy officer at the European Environmental Bureau said: “The Commission wants European food to become the ‘global standard for sustainability’ but the Farm to Fork strategy is only taking a piecemeal approach and kicking the can down the road. The European Commission must create a holistic strategy with strong commitments. The Farm to Fork Strategy is our chance to transform our food system for a truly sustainable Europe, and we look forward to working with the Commission to develop more concrete plans over the next few months.”

No CAP on ambition

The European Green Deal also refers to 40% of the CAP budget contributing to climate action, something which the EU’s own financial watchdog has previously referred to as “invention”. Expected targets to reduce the use of pesticides and fertilisers and reduce food waste were also missing from the Green Deal.

Ariel Brunner from Birdlife Europe said that the Green Deal “shies away from addressing the essential reform needed in the CAP” and that “there is a complete lack of clarity on reducing overall consumption across Europe”.

Brunner said: “The Commission will need to do a lot better than this in the coming months if it is to offer Europe a way out from the ecological crisis that threatens to submerge us all.”