Meat & Livestock News

EU Reverses Pesticide Reduction Plan Amid Farmer Protests


  • The European Commission has reversed its decision to reduce pesticide use by 50% across the EU by 2030, following widespread protests by farmers.
  • Ursula Von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, acknowledged the need for more dialogue and a different approach, emphasising the importance of listening to farmers’ concerns.

In a significant turn of events, the European Commission has backed down from its ambitious plan to cut pesticide use by half by 2030 across its 27 Member States.

This decision came in the wake of strong opposition from farmers across the European Union, who argued that the proposed Sustainable Use Regulation (SUR), part of the EU’s Green Deal aimed at tackling climate change, would adversely affect their crop production and competitiveness against cheaper food imports.

The SUR, a key element of the EU’s Farm to Fork strategy designed to make food systems more environmentally friendly, was voted down in Parliament last November. Amendments to the SUR by a conservative coalition led to a fundamental change in the text, sparking protests from various countries, including Spain, Greece, and Bulgaria. These countries demanded greater flexibility from the EU, tighter controls on non-EU produce, and more government support.

Ursula Von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, responded to the growing discontent by reversing the decision, stating that the issue had become a “symbol of polarisation” and acknowledging the need for more dialogue and a revised approach. “Our farmers deserve to be listened to,” Von der Leyen said, highlighting the importance of involving farmers in discussions to find realistic and practical solutions.

The withdrawal of the SUR proposal has been welcomed by the joint farmers’ lobby group Copa Cogeca, which criticised the original proposal as poorly designed, evaluated, and financed, offering little alternative to farmers. However, this move by the Commission has angered Green MEPs and environmental groups, who see it as a setback for environmental protection efforts.

In summary, the European Commission’s decision to reconsider its stance on pesticide reduction underscores the complex balance between environmental sustainability and agricultural viability. It highlights the need for inclusive dialogue and flexible policies that address the concerns of all stakeholders involved.