Farm to Fork: 20% reduction in fertiliser use; antimicrobial and pesticide use to halve

The European Commission has adopted its Farm to Fork Strategy, which will target sharp reductions in the use of fertilisers, pesticides and antimicrobial animal medicines.

An ambitious target of 25% (in terms of the area farmed) has been set for organic farming (by 2030).

Adopted by the commission as of today, Wednesday, May 20, two strategies were launched in Brussels this morning by the executive vice-president of the European Commission Frans Timmermans, Commissioner Stella Kyriakides and Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevičius.

These were, namely, the new Biodiversity Strategy – which aims to “bring nature back into our lives” – and the Farm to Fork Strategy that claims to set out “a fair, healthy and environmentally-friendly food system”.

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Farm to Fork Strategy

The Farm to Fork Strategy will “enable the transition to a sustainable EU food system that safeguards food security and ensures access to healthy diets sourced from a healthy planet”, the commission says, adding:

“It will reduce the environmental and climate footprint of the EU food system and strengthen its resilience, protecting citizens’ health and ensuring the livelihoods of economic operators.”

The strategy sets targets to “transform the EU’s food system”, including: a 50% reduction in the use (and risk) of pesticides; a 20% reduction (“at least”) in the use of fertilisers; and a 50% reduction in sales of antimicrobials used for farm animals. It also targets 25% of agricultural land to be “under organic farming” by 2030.

The commission has outlined that the baseline for the percentage reduction targets on pesticides, fertilisers and antimicrobials will rest on the most recently available data – for example, the commission said the latest data on antimicrobial use was collated in 2018.

It also proposes “ambitious measures to ensure that the healthy option is the easiest for EU citizens”, including “improved labelling to better meet consumers’ information needs on healthy, sustainable foods”.

The statement read: “European farmers, fishers and aquaculture producers play a key role in the transition to a more equitable and sustainable food system.

“They will get support from the Common Agricultural Policy and the Common Fisheries Policy through new streams of funding and eco-schemes to take up sustainable practices.

“Making sustainability Europe’s trademark will open new business opportunities and diversify sources of income for European farmers and fishers.

The Farm to Fork Strategy aims to promote a global transition to sustainable food systems, in close cooperation with its international partners.

The European Commission is now “inviting” the European Parliament and the EU Council to endorse both strategies and the commitments therein. The commission also says that “all citizens and stakeholders are invited to engage in a broad public debate”.