The European Commission could delay the publication of proposals on sustainable agriculture and nature, expected this week, while the impact of the war in Ukraine on food supplies has led some countries to resist reform.
The EU is overtaking all sectors to become greener, including agriculture, which accounts for around 10% of EU greenhouse gas emissions. Brussels has been discussing targets including halving the use of chemical pesticides by 2030 and is drafting binding legislation to make them a reality.
However, the European Commission is considering delaying two new proposals – binding nature restoration targets and a more sustainable pesticides law – which were due to be published on Wednesday.
EU officials were due on Monday to decide the timeline of the proposals, which compete for attention with contingency plans for rising energy prices and food supplies, after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine pushed up wheat and barley prices and sparked fears of shortages.
Russia and Ukraine account for more than 30% of world trade in wheat and more than 50% in sunflower oils, seeds and meals. The EU also imports significant amounts of animal feed and fertilizers from the region.
EU agriculture ministers also met on Monday to discuss measures to respond to the effects of the war.
French Agriculture Minister Julien Denormandie said this has led some countries to question the transition to a new EU farm policy, but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t happen.
“Yes, it’s complicated to make this transition while ensuring food supplies, but it’s not that we don’t do it because it’s complex,” Denormandy said upon arrival for the meeting.
The Commission is considering measures to improve food security, for example by using fallow land, a practice that allows the environment to recover between farming cycles, for crop production or animal grazing.
Farm Lobby Group Copa and Cogeca are demanding to be able to cultivate all available land in 2022 to compensate for the blockade of Russian and Ukrainian production.
“Every effort must be made to prevent disruptions in supply chains that will inevitably lead to bottlenecks in certain parts of the world. This is an essential issue of food sovereignty and democratic stability.
However, a group of 400 scientists and food sector experts said on Friday that abandoning sustainable farming practices would be counterproductive.
“These actions would not move us towards, but further away from, a reliable food system that is resilient to future shocks and provides healthy and sustainable nutrition,” the statement said.
Instead, she called for a switch to crops that rely less on fertilizers made with Russian gas and more plant-based diets to reduce the amount of grain needed for animal feed.
https://www.independent.ie/business/farming/agri-business/eu/ukraine-war-could-delay-eu-sustainable-farming-plans-41470197.html The war in Ukraine could delay EU plans for sustainable agriculture