Commissioner: ‘Very important’ to reduce distance from farm to fork

European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development Janusz Wajciochowski has stressed the need to reduce the distance between farm to fork – and the importance of “local” markets.

Speaking at an agricultural press briefing earlier today, Monday, May 25, Commissioner Wojciechowski spoke on the Common Agricultural Policy’s (CAP’s) contribution to the recently launched Farm to Fork Strategy reiterating the ambitious reduction targets set for the sector and how these will be tied into the formation of the next CAP.

The commissioner said that the strategy targets “will drive measures proposed by member states in their CAP Strategic Plan, to ensure that these plans contain measures to encourage farmers to reduce the use of plant protection products and optimise the use of nutrients”.

He noted that CAP will be mobilised to “support farmers in the transition towards more sustainable production and in achieving the Green Deal objections”.

Strategy launch

After his speech, the commissioner tabled questions from journalists. When asked why he was not on the podium to launch the Farm to Food and Biodiversity strategies last Wednesday, May 20, the commissioner said:

“I was one of the 24 commissioners who didn’t participate in this press conference because it was a press conference for the three commissioners directly responsible for the Green Deal and for both strategies.”

Noting that a number of issues that are included in the strategies cross into the areas of responsibilities of several other commissioners, Commissioner Wojciechowski added:

Of course, the contribution of agriculture is very high in this strategy and I’m happy that all of my most important suggestions were included into the text of both strategies.

He highlighted that food security and farmers’ competitiveness, adding:

“My obligation is to monitor the situation because the implementation of the strategies should not be against the food security, not against the European farmers’ competitiveness. This is very important.

“But generally, I am happy that the most important of my suggestions were included in the strategies.

“For example, the question of transport is very important. It’s very important to reduce distance from farm to fork.

“With transport, 1.3 billion tonnes of agricultural products per year [moves] on the roads by trucks from one part to another part of Europe.

We should support the connection between farmers, local food processing industry and local markets to reduce the distance from farm to fork.

“This is very important for me to do this job. The question of animal welfare is very important in this strategy,” the commissioner said.

Czech proposal and ‘individual’ approach

The commissioner refused to comment on a question posed to him as to whether he supported a proposal from the Czech Republic today, advocating for shops to stock 55% of their store floors with “local” food.

In response to the question, the commissioner said:

“I will not comment [on] this new proposal. Our discussion will be with the member states will be at the stage of approval for their national strategy plans.

One of the most important proposals of my suggestion included in the Farm to Fork strategy is we should have an individual approach for the member states, because there are big differences across member states.

“For example, the structure of the farms, the size of the farms is different; also the using of fertilisers, use of pesticides, etc. We have to have an individual approach for the member states.

“Of course having the vision of the general objectives – the green deal and the Common Agricultural Policy – but we should be flexible for the proposals of the member states and take into account the specific situation in the individual member states.”