Climate change and environmental degradation present a serious threat to Europe and the entire world. Since the time of the industrial revolution, there has been a significant increase in the average temperature at the world level, and the average temperature at the world level today is higher by 0.94 - 1.03° than at the end of the 19th century. According to the European Environment Agency, the EU is the third largest source of greenhouse gases in the world, right after China and the USA. Climate change is affecting Europe in various forms - it can lead to biodiversity loss, forest fires, decreasing crop yields and higher temperatures, and it can also affect people's health. The European Green Deal is a growth strategy that aims to transform the EU into a fair and prosperous society, with a modern, resource-efficient and competitive economy where there are no net emissions of greenhouse gases in 2050 and where economic growth is decoupled from resource use. The Green Deal also aims to protect, conserve and enhance the EU's natural capital, and protect the health and well-being of citizens from environment-related risks and impacts (European Commission, 2019). The Green Deal sets out how to make Europe the first climate-neutral continent by 2050.
The agri-food sector has a significant impact on the environment, and according to the report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), about a third of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions originate from food systems.
The EU aims at changing the food production and consumption patterns in Europe in order to:
• reduce the environmental footprint of food systems
• strengthen their resilience to crises
• continue to ensure healthy and affordable food for future generations
Farm to Fork Strategy is one of the key actions within the Green Deal. The strategy intends to redirect the existing EU food system towards a sustainable model and contribute to achieving climate neutrality by 2050.
Main objectives of the Farm to Fork Strategy are:
· provide sufficient, affordable and nutritious food
· halve the use of pesticides and fertilizers and the sale of antimicrobial agents
· increase the amount of land dedicated to organic agriculture
· promote more sustainable food consumption and healthy diets
· reduce food loss and waste
· reduce food related fraud in the supply chain
· improve animal welfare
Modernising agriculture by developing more sustainable agricultural practices, while simultaneously protecting nature and combating climate change, is one of the key objectives of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) reform. The objectives of the future CAP are therefore closely related to the Farm to Fork Strategy.
An integral part of the Farm to Fork Strategy is the Organic action plan. The Organic action plan outlines a number of measures to increase organic farming in the EU, and its main goal is to encourage organic production so that by 2030 its share in the use of agricultural land in the EU reaches 25 %. The new ‘eco-schemes’ will offer a major stream of funding to boost sustainable practices, such as precision agriculture, agro-ecology (including organic farming), carbon farming and agroforestry.
Agriculture and forestry can play a key role in combating climate change by absorbing carbon from the atmosphere. In April 2022, the Council adopted conclusions on low-carbon agriculture, based on the Commission’s communication on sustainable carbon cycles presented in December 2021, with the aim of encouraging agricultural practices that help capture carbon from the atmosphere and store it in the soil or biomass in a sustainable manner.
Some practices that do not have a harmful impact on the environment include planting hedges or trees, growing legumes, using cover crops, conservation agriculture and peatland maintenance, and afforestation or reforestation.
One of the objectives of the Farm to fork strategy is ensuring sustainable food production. It is important that all actors of the food chain contribute to achieving the sustainability of food chain. Farmers, fishers and aquaculture producers need to transform their production methods in a way that they make the best use of nature-based, technological and digital solutions to deliver better climate and environmental results, increase climate resilience, and also reduce and optimise the use of inputs, such as pesticides and fertilisers (European Commission, 2020).
An example of a new green business model is carbon sequestration by farmers and foresters. Farming practices that remove CO2 from the atmosphere contribute to the objective of reaching climate neutrality.
The use of chemical pesticides in agriculture contributes to soil, water and air pollution, biodiversity loss and can harm non-target plants, insects, birds, mammals and amphibians. Therefore, one of the goals of the strategy is to reduce the overall use and risk of chemical pesticides by 50 % and the use of more hazardous pesticides by 50 % by 2030.
The excess of nutrients (especially nitrogen and phosphorus) in the environment is another major source of air, soil and water pollution and climate impacts. It has reduced biodiversity in rivers, lakes, wetlands and seas. The Commission will act to reduce nutrient losses by at least 50 %, while ensuring that there is no deterioration in soil fertility. This will reduce the use of fertilisers by at least 20 % by 2030 (European Commission, 2020).
The Commission will also take action to reduce overall EU sales of antimicrobials for farmed animals and in aquaculture by 50 % by 2030, as the antimicrobial resistance (AMR), linked to the excessive and inappropriate use of antimicrobials in animal and human healthcare, leads to an estimated 33,000 human deaths in the EU every year.
The main aim of the Farm to Fork Strategy is to make the EU food system a global standard for sustainability!