The respective agriculture ministers from the EU’s member states held a video meeting today, Monday, June 8, to discuss the EU’s two recently published strategies: The Farm to Fork Strategy and the Biodiversity Strategy for 2030.

Speaking after the meeting, Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Michael Creed said he welcomed the strategies, but that he “must also strike a note of caution”.

“I believe we will need to first have a thorough analysis of both strategies, in the form of rigorous impact assessments and broad consultation, in order to ensure that the competitiveness and financial viability of food production systems across all member states are maintained and enhanced,” the minister said.

The minister also called for the “accelerated delivery” by the commission of a proposed legislative framework for sustainable food systems, and highlighted the “importance of maintaining the integrity of the single market when making any changes”.

Minister Creed also called for “policy coherence” – specifically between agriculture and international trade policy.

Addressing the relationship between the strategies and member states’ work on their ‘strategic plans’ for the Common Agriculture Policy (CAP), the minister said: “We know now that we must take into account the broad objectives of [the two strategies] in finalising our strategic plans, and that is something that we in Ireland intend to do.

“This new element should not, however, lead to delays in the approval of national plans,” he added.

Nor should it undermine the principle of subsidiarity. What we should have is an ongoing and open dialogue between member states and the commission, working together to agree these important future plans.

Finally, on the CAP budget, Minister Creed said that, while the commission’s recent proposals are an increase on other recent proposals for 2021 to 2027, Ireland was “still assessing the proposals in detail”.

“The proposed front-loading of payments under the Next Generation EU recovery instrument [a €750 billion addition to the EU budget for 2021 to 2027] may not necessarily facilitate the achievement of the strategies’ objectives, as these will require actions and commitments from farmers over a much longer period of time than the period to 2024,” he noted.

Concluding his remarks, Minister Creed said: “In addition, the temporary nature of this funding raises the prospect of our starting point in the budgetary discussions next time around being very low indeed. This would not auger well for our ability to continue to support the transition to a more sustainable future.”