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Farmers and the food sector: hand in hand

Published: 30/08/2021

How can we support farmers in the transition to more sustainable food systems? As part of our #FoodFuture campaign, we spoke to Alexander Bernhuber MEP to examine the challenge and what EU legislators are doing to help.

The agricultural sector has faced many challenges in recent years. Whether it is ensuring security of supply or the impact of climate change on biodiversity as well as soil and water quality.

For this reason, agriculture already makes its contribution to the fight against climate change. Through the production of regional food in a climate-friendly way, greenhouse gas emissions can be reduced, not to mention other benefits. By farming in a sustainable way, such as greening, crop rotation or reduced tillage, the humus level can be increased.

Next to the challenge of properly adapting to climate change mitigation is also the implementation of new rules and procedures. Of course, it is important that there are certain rules and regulations. Unfortunately, legislative texts are often drafted without the adequate impact assessments. Hence, their execution imposes great challenges on the agricultural sector. New legislation for farmers should always include subsidiarity, proportionality and the consideration of practical effects.

The Covid-19 pandemic in particular, has shown the importance of a well-functioning interaction between agriculture and the food sector. To secure the food supply chain is always an important objective – not only during a crisis.

The food and drink industry and agriculture are also committed to food safety. To ensure food safety throughout the supply chain, the EU implements robust regulatory measures and farmers make voluntary efforts to ensure the highest levels of food quality. European food safety regulations have increased consumer confidence in European food production. As European food standards are the strictest, it is not surprising that Europe is the leading exporting producer of food and beverages.

The interdependence between agriculture and the food industry also manifests itself in terms of a sustainable future for farming.

In Europe, 88 million tons of high quality produced food are wasted every single year. By reducing the amount of food waste, other invaluable resources such as water, energy and other raw materials are not being squandered. The European Green Deal requires a food waste reduction of 50% by 2030.

In addition, the Farm to Fork strategy has an essential role to play in Europe’s fight against climate change as well. It aims to make the food sector fair, healthy and environmentally friendly. If agriculture – and therefore the food industry – adopts a sustainable path, this will also create new opportunities in the food value chain.