F2F special podcast, increased CAP spending, digital farming revolution

Your weekly update on all things Agriculture & Food in the EU.

Welcome to EURACTIV’s AgriFood Brief, your weekly update on all things Agriculture & Food in the EU. You can subscribe here if you haven’t done so yet.

Commission hikes CAP’s second pillar spending to deliver Green Deal

The European Commission has proposed boosting the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) with an extra €20 billion to support greening the EU’s farming sector, using the recently unveiled Farm to Fork (F2F) strategy as a vehicle. Read more here.

This week in this special edition of the EURACTIV Agrifood podcast, we spoke to a range of stakeholders and policymakers to hear their reactions to the presentation of the highly anticipated Farm to Fork strategy which, after several delays, was finally presented on the 20 May. Listen below. 

Agrifood news this week

EU’s new food policy will match CAP goals, Commission says
The new Farm to Fork (F2F) strategy is compatible with the general thrust of the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP)’s proposal presented in June 2018, provided that its core aspects are confirmed in the legislative process, the European Commission has stressed in response to a query from EU lawmakers. Gerardo Fortuna has more.

COVID-19 crisis could ‘kick off digital revolution in agriculture’
Digital farming is set to boom in the aftermath of the COVID-19 crisis, given its capacity to help the EU farming sector improve its sustainability and recover from the outbreak’s impact. But there are also considerable concerns raised about the pace of this change and whether farmers are adequately prepared for it. Natasha Foote has the story.

European Patent Office endorses EU’s stance on conventionally-bred plants
The longstanding legal saga on patentability for plants obtained by conventional biological processes has been seemingly put to an end after the Enlarged Body of the European Patent Office (EPO) published an opinion upholding the EU’s standpoint. Read more here.

Commission re-opens controversial advanced biofuel list in transport
The European Commission has launched a stakeholder consultation to expand the list of the so-called advanced or second-generation biofuels of the Renewable Energy Directive (RED II), EURACTIV.com has learned. Sarantis Michalopoulos has the story.

Coronavirus outbreak exposing vulnerabilities in the EU meat sector
After multiple outbreaks of coronavirus brought some meat-processing plants to a standstill across the US, a similar trend has started to be seen across the EU, with potentially damaging consequences for the sector. See here for more information.

Commission upholds highly ambitious targets to transform EU food system
After several delays, the EU’s new flagship food policy was finally released on Wednesday (20 May), confirming the aspiration of the EU executive to transform the European way of producing, distributing and consuming food.

Farm to Fork coverage highlights include: 

To learn more about the strategy, and to hear reactions from stakeholders and policymakers to the presentation of the strategy, be sure to check out EURACTIV’s special podcast.

Quote of the Week

“The EU targets set out in the two strategies demonstrate the magnitude of the efforts to reach the overarching objective of the Farm to Fork Strategy. These targets do not prescribe what farmers must do and will not increase red tape for farmers”

EU Agriculture Commissioner Janusz Wojciechowski during his speech this week in an Ag-Press webinar on the CAP’s contribution to the Farm to Fork Strategy

Agrifood news from around Europe

The NFU has backed calls made by a cross-party group of MPs for the government to give British farmers access to gene-editing technology. The All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) said the proposed Agriculture Bill amendment could pave the way for the UK to break free of EU rules. Natasha Foote has more. (EURACTIV.com)

The Polish government has decided to cover the costs of conducting coronavirus tests for foreigners coming to work in agriculture. However, this decision caused some controversy in Poland as not all professions can count on the same treatment, such as teachers working in schools. Read more here. (Mateusz Kucharczyk| EURACTIV.pl)

Romania is facing the most severe drought that it’s seen for over 50 years, Agriculture Minister Adrian Oros said Sunday (24 May). Despite being one of the agricultural powerhouses of the EU, Romania’s farming output is largely dependent on weather conditions as few of its crops are irrigated. Bogdan Neagu has more. (EURACTIV.ro)

The Council of Ministers have taken the decision to extend the measures to facilitate the recruitment of seasonal workers for three more months until 30th September, said Finance Minister and government spokesperson Maria Jesus Montero. These measures were approved in April to encourage the uptake agricultural jobs during the agricultural seasons. EURACTIV’s partner, EFE Agro, has more. 

Leader of the liberal Free Democrat (FDP), Christian Lindner, came out in favour of higher meat prices in an interview with newspaper Die Zeit.  “The price must reflect all costs. That’s why I would also include the climate impact of agriculture,” he said. He also condemned the conditions in slaughterhouses, which have been in the news in recent weeks after multiple coronavirus outbreaks across the country, calling for better health and safety regulations.  (Sarah Lawton| EURACTIV.de)

The president of the Croatian Chamber of Agriculture, Mladen Jakopovic, said on Friday (22 May) that farmers will need financial support to adapt to the new EU strategy, the Farm to Fork. “If farmers are to make an additional contribution to this ambitious plan, they must have adequate financial support for the adjustment and transition period,” Jakopovic said. (Karla Junicic | EURACTIV.hr)

A growing wildlife population, thought to perhaps be a consequence of human inactivity during the COVID-19 crisis, is now posing a threat to crops and livestock in Italy. For example, in the North of the country, wild boars are damaging maize crops looking for food, while roe deers are destroying vineyards in the South. Foxes are raiding in hen houses in Veneto region, while wolf packs threaten sheep. (Gerardo Fortuna | EURACTIV.com)

France has regularly found itself out of flour during the crisis, despite it being Europe’s leading wheat producer, as there is a lack of milling capacities. Issues such as these have started to fuel a growing trend of food protectionism in France, and countries across the EU are now seeking to build up grain reserves to ensure the continuity of national food supplies. (EURACTIV.fr)

Irish beef exports to China have been temporarily suspended due to the discovery of atypical BSE in a cow reports Agriland. In a statement on Wednesday (27 May), the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine confirmed the case, adding that “Ireland’s BSE controls are effective and consistent with legal requirements and best international practice.” Commenting on the development, Meat Industry Ireland said they hoped this would only be a “temporary setback”. (Natasha Foote | EURACTIV.com)


On our radar this week

2 June – There is an extraordinary meeting of the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development. You can find the draft agenda here.

4 June – EURACTIV Virtual Conference to discuss “transparency in EU decision making – the case of glyphosate” where panellists will discuss the direction pesticide policies in the EU will take. Find out more information here.

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