Organic regulation postponement, new F2F date confirmed, agritourism struggles

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 urged to hold off new rules on organic products

Backed by the organic food sector, EU lawmakers are pushing the European Commission to delay the coming into force of the reformed organic regulation. In a letter to bloc’s agriculture boss Janusz Wojciechowski, they asked for the new rules to be postponed by one year. Read more here.

Agrifood news this week

Agritourism sector hit by COVID-19 crisis in double blow for small farmers
Small farmers across the EU are increasingly turning to agritourism to diversify their economic activities but the niche business, just like the entire tourism sector, has not been spared the devastating impact of the COVID-19 crisis. Read more here.

NGO challenges new EFSA studies on multiple pesticides as ‘unfit for purpose’
The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has published the results of its two pilot assessments on the risks posed to humans by residues of multiple pesticides in food, but  an EU association advocating for a reduction of pesticides has deemed them “unfit for purpose.” Natasha Foote has the story.

New EU food policy to be presented in two weeks
After being delayed twice, the European Commission is ready to unveil on 20 May its much-awaited food policy, the Farm to Fork Strategy (F2F), according to its weekly ‘indicative’ agenda. Gerardo Fortuna reports.

EU agri-food sector puzzled by crisis reserve conundrum
As the exceptional measures taken by the European Commission have not been deemed adequate to relieve distressed agri-food markets, the idea of deploying the so far unused crisis fund, set up in the 2013 Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) reform, is coming to the fore. See here for more details.

MEPs call for convergence to avoid ‘Orwellian’ fate for farmers 
As long as there are ‘equal’ and ‘more equal’ farmers within the EU, its Eastern member states will be giving up farming and abandoning rural areas, a group of 65 EU lawmakers warned in a letter addressed to the presidents of the bloc’s top institutions. Gerardo Fortuna has the story.

Quote of the Week

“This is this should be an opportunity for our agricultural sector to also look at its own resilience and its own sustainability. I do think that this is an opportunity to rethink how we eat, how we consume what we consume. I think it is a good opportunity to have products closer to home”

European Commission vice-president Frans Timmermans 

Agrifood news from around Europe

Around 778 tonnes of non-compliant or suspect phytosanitary products from India and China have been seized in Antwerp by the Belgian Federal Agency for the Safety of the Food Chain (FASFC). EURACTIV’s partner le Journal de l’environnement reports.
(Natasha Foote |

The European Union signed a free trade agreement with Mexico on Tuesday (28 April), which provoked a strong reaction from France’s farming community. EURACTIV’s partner Ouest-France reports.

The Croatian Agriculture Ministry has launched an online web platform Trž, which offers farm produce from all over the country, the ministry said on Monday (4 April). The platform has been launched to help farmers and fishermen with the fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic. Read more.  (Karla Juničić |

Romania’s agriculture minister said an evaluation of the effects of drought on the country’s agricultural sector will be finalised in the coming days, but preliminary data shows up to 1.2 million hectares could be severely affected by the lack of rain. Read more here. (Bogdan Neagu |

As shoppers try to reduce their trips out of the house amid the coronavirus outbreak, weekly sales of veg boxes in the UK have more than doubled. According to new data from the independent think tank, the Food Foundation, sales increased by 111% in the six weeks from the end of February to mid-April. (Natasha Foote |

Proposals to cut the national agriculture herd to reduce greenhouse gas emissions was a “lazy narrative” based on “flawed” calculations, the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) has said according to the Irish Times. The farmers’ group criticised the comments from Robert Watt, Department of Public Expenditure secretary-general, who suggested that the national herd should be cut by up to 5% as part of the government’s climate action plan. (Natasha Foote |

After the green light from the Commission on private storage aid (PSA), the Ministry of Agriculture will allow cheese producers to store up to a maximum of 12,654 tons and will be able to submit requests for aid from 7 May to 30 June. The provision will concern cheeses with a geographical indication, as well as generic cheeses and curds. (Gerardo Fortuna |

German Agriculture Minister Julia Klöckner’s appearance on a German cooking show on Bild TV last weekend has caused a stir, as the show was sponsored by the supermarket chain Kaufland. Klöckner has since claimed that she was unaware of the sponsorship, but politicians across the political spectrum have been quick to criticise her and question this. (Sarah Lawton |

Europe should not rush reforms to its agricultural strategies, Austrian MEP Simona Schmiedtbauer warned in a letter cosigned by members of the conservative ÖVP party. “Long-term planning and legal certainty are the urgently needed foundations for a well-functioning, sustainable agriculture and forestry. Especially in times of crisis, it is therefore a priority to maintain these foundations and thus ensure a comprehensive, high-quality food supply,” she emphasised. (Sarah Lawton |

From the end of April, Ukrainian citizens will be eligible to receive Polish employee visas, according to the Polish Press Agency (PAP). At the same time, as part of the third anti-crisis law, which is currently awaiting approval by the Senate and the signature of the president, the government confirmed that farmers will not have to apply for temporary residence for seasonal workers. (Mateusz Kucharczyk|

On our radar this week

 ValuSect consortium, a consortium of partners coordinated by Thomas More University, has launched a programme to improve the sustainable production and processing techniques of insect-based food products. It aims to transfer developed knowledge to agri-food businesses in North-West Europe.

After the first steps made towards designing the National CAP Strategic Plans, ARC2020, an NGO focused on better farming and rural policy and practice in Europe, has published an analysis on the transparency and stakeholder inclusivity of the design process of the plans in six selected Member States: France, Ireland, Italy, Germany, Spain, and Poland. For more information about this, check out our podcast where we talk to Matteo Metta, policy officer at ARC2020, about the findings from the study.

Environmental NGO Greenpeace EU is calling for the EU to scrap the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and start again to build a food and farming system that saves small-scale farmers and protects us from future pandemics.


Subscribe to our newsletters