BSJP Agribusiness: "From farm to table" - a new strategy for the European agriculture

Under the "European Green Deal" plan adopted by the European Commission, which was finally approved by the European Parliament on 15 January 2020, the EU Member States have committed themselves to make Europe the first climate-neutral continent by 2050. Consequently, changes in many areas of economic and social life in Europe will take place. Agriculture is one of the key areas affected by the European Green Deal. This sector of business activity will be included in the so called: "From farm to table" strategy.

"From farm to table" is a new strategy based on the assumption that agriculture is the most influential economic sector for the environment and climate. At the same time, agriculture must remain an area of production of healthy food with high nutritional quality and possibly low impact on natural environment.

 The necessity to include agriculture in the strategy of European climate neutrality by 2050 means definite changes in approach towards agricultural production, which, upon the new EU budgetary perspective, will support sustainable production mechanisms.

 The most meaningful indicator of the proposed changes are the following assumptions:

  • 40% of the common agricultural policy (CAP) budget should contribute to the fight against climate changes;
  • 30% of the resources of the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund should contribute to successful achievement of climate objectives.

Within the budgetary perspective of the CAP for the years 2014-2020, which is now coming to an end, 75.6% of the general resources was allocated to the so-called first pillar, i.e. direct payments. The remaining part - 24.4% constituted the so called second pillar connected with instruments of rural development measures.

According to the new "From farm to table" strategy, if 40% of the CAP funds is going to be associated with the climate change mechanisms, this means that both direct payment instruments and rural development are inevitably dependent on compliance with conditions to contribute to climate and environmental protection.

What does it mean for an individual agricultural producer?

Agricultural production in Europe after 2020 will be subject to a transformation towards a closed-loop economy, from production to consumption. Each of the elements involved in food production should function together and respect the natural environment.

For the average agricultural producer, this means changes particularly in crop production and animal farming methods. It can be expected that the mechanisms known from the obligations of the so-called sustainable and organic farming, e.g. in the use of plant protection products and mineral and natural fertilizers, will become a growing obligation for all producers. On one hand, it will be necessary for conscious production, where each plant protection or fertilization operation will result from real needs (e.g. exceeding the damage threshold of pathogens or insects and the level of fertilization corresponding to the abundance of soils), on the other hand, however, this means potentially significant savings for agriculture.

Undoubtedly, implementation of the "From farm to table" strategy will put a strong emphasis on animal production as well. The individual elements of such production, from fodder preparation, through feeding, animal welfare, use of natural fertilizers to transport, slaughter, processing and consumption will have to be associated with the lowest possible environmental impact. According to the "From farm to table" strategy, the final consumer of the products produced in the farm should have a guaranteed quality and production methods that are accessible and transparent to them. Similarly to plant production, requirements and sacrifices imposed on the producer may translate into measurable benefits.

Currently, assumptions of the new strategy of the European agriculture may seem to many as worrying and related to excessive requirements. Moreover, they have already raised objections among producers from the Netherlands or Germany. The core of the above mentioned assumptions will be presented in details of the "From farm to table" strategy, which will be announced by the European Commission in March this year, and in the national documents regarding direct payments and rural development policies. The condition for a possibly neutral and positive impact of the new strategy on individual producers will be active involvement of producers in the process of implementation of its assumptions.

Should you have any doubts or further questions, we are at your disposal. For more information, please contact attorney-at-law Maciej Prusak (maciej.prusak@bsjp.pl).