Farm to Fork Strategy: building a sustainable EU Food system framework: share responsibility equally

FFA2021 Policy Week seminar summary

Wednesday, Mar 31, 2021

The Farm to Fork Strategy aims to shape the way farming in Europe is performed to respond to the societal and environmental expectations of how our food should be produced into the future. But the question remains, is the current Farm to Fork Strategy proposal going to succeed to bridge the gap between consumers and farmers, in order to achieve genuine change? This was just one of many questions addressed at the first event of the FFA2021 Policy Week.

FFA2021 Senior Advisor Mark Titterington introduced FFA2021 Chair and RISE Foundation Chairman Janez Potočnik, who opened the session by stressing that food system transformation is an essential part of the European Green Deal; with the future economic development of the EU and the global economy dependent on how we preserve our natural capital.

Former EU Commissioner for the Environment Janez Potočnik also noted how energy and climate interests had worked together to design an effective response to climate change and energy transition. Implementing the Farm to Fork Strategy will require an equally wide-ranging partnership and mutual trust across the food chain for a systemic transformation.

Claire Bury, Deputy Director-General, DG Health and Food Safety, European Commission, presented the aims, content and economic dimension of the Farm to Fork Strategy. She stressed that the COVID-19 pandemic has made this even more urgent, showing the fragility of European food systems and the clear cracks in delivering food security.

Roman Leshchenko, Ukraine’s Minister of Agrarian Policy and Food, told FFA2021 that his country’s government strongly supports the European green deal and environmentally friendly production. The minister was pleased to share that Ukraine’s food strategy and food safety legislation are already largely in line with European requirements.

Jeroen Candel, Assistant Professor, Wagenheim University, identified the key challenge to creating a sustainable food system as “translating this global notion of food system sustainability into concrete targets”. He pointed to the need to move from production volume goals to high quality, nutritious food production; and to change pricing structures so the healthy sustainable choice is the most affordable for all in society.

Florence Jeantet, Managing Director, One Planet Business for Biodiversity (OP2B), explained that many companies are already reinventing their food supply chains and factoring in biodiversity and new specifications. She emphasised the need for “transparency of communication on where a product comes from and its environmental impact” to ensure trust throughout the food chain.

Samuel Masse, organic winegrower and President of the European young farmers’ organisation CEJA, confirmed that members “totally welcome the ambition of the Green Deal”. However, he called for clearer measures saying the public and policymakers “must understand what our farmers are doing before we force them to change their ways or insist they do more”, reflecting on the voluntary and mandatory compliances embedded in the Farm to Fork Strategy. He highlighted the importance of encouraging a new generation of farmers for a new generation of consumers by ensuring they secure sustainable income streams and access to the tools of production.

Marco Pierani, Director of Public Affairs and Media Relations at Euroconsumers, acknowledged that consumers generally favour moves to a more sustainable food system stating “we must democratise the sustainable choices”. But they need a clear signal on the price of sustainable food and reliable information to make informed choices.

Maria do Ceu Antunes, Portugal’s Minister of Agriculture, brought the session to a conclusion by spelling out her country’s main agricultural priorities during its current six-month EU presidency. She confirmed her government is looking to secure agreement on the new CAP reforms by the Spring, so the new policy can be rolled out in 2023. “Now is the time to deliver a fairer, greener and digital Europe,” she concluded.

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