Meat & Livestock News

EU’s Agricultural Strategy Report: Balancing Sustainability and Profit

The European Commission is set to receive a crucial report by the end of summer. It will explore ways to make European agriculture sustainable yet profitable, as stated by two EU officials in Washington this week.

The Commission’s Initiative

Launched on January 25 by Ursula von der Leyden, the European Commission’s president, the Strategic Dialogue on the Future of European Agriculture aims to redefine the EU’s agricultural landscape. 

Catherine Geslain-Lanéelle, who is the director for strategy and policy in the Directorate-General for Agriculture and Rural Development (DG-Agri), highlighted the diverse composition of the 29-member commission. It includes farmers, environmentalists, food industry executives, consumer activists, and academics, all working towards a unified vision for the EU’s agriculture and food systems.

Challenges and Solutions

The EU’s Farm to Fork strategy, which focuses on reducing the use of agricultural inputs like fertilisers and herbicides, also includes measures like taking land out of production to combat climate change. However, Peter Strohschneider, a German academic leading the dialogue, acknowledged in a podcast the need for agriculture to remain profitable.

Geslain-Lanéelle, a French engineer and the EU’s former candidate for director general of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization in 2019, stressed that European agriculture could both contribute to and mitigate climate change effects. She noted that agriculture, including forestry, is unique in its ability to sequester carbon.

Transatlantic Discussions

During their visit to Washington for the event titled “Agricultural Resilience in Uncertain Times,” EU farmers and officials engaged with several U.S. Department of Agriculture leaders. They met Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack via video and several other undersecretaries in person, discussing the shared challenges of climate change and resource management.

Pierre Bascou, acting director-general of the DG-Agri, pointed out that the EU and the US are the world’s top food exporters and both face similar environmental issues. The discussions largely focused on common challenges, avoiding trade and policy tensions.

Contextual Challenges

The visit coincided with agricultural protests across Europe, sparked by frustrations with the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). While the Commission announced a simplification of some CAP rules, Geslain-Lanéelle suggested that national issues also fueled the protests.

Moreover, recent approvals by the European Parliament have drawn criticism from environmental groups like ClientEarth, arguing that these changes could undermine the EU’s efforts against biodiversity and climate crises.

Future Considerations

The ongoing farmer protests and environmental concerns are likely to influence the upcoming European Parliament elections in June. “We Don’t Have Time,” an environmental group, has expressed concerns about the European Council’s commitment to prioritising climate change.

This report, once released, could set new directions for European agriculture, balancing economic viability with environmental sustainability.