Report on Green Deal and Farm-to-Fork held up for 8 months – Less food, more land use and higher prices

The report on the effects of the Farm to Fork strategy of the European Commission’s internal research department – the Joint Research Center – was already ready in January this year, but was only published in mid-August. That writes the news website EUractiv.

In the report, the European Commission’s scientific office concluded that the Farm to Fork strategy will lead to a significant reduction in food production in the EU. Production per sector could be around ten percent lower, with peaks to fifteen percent for meat. The price of beef, pork and chicken will rise sharply, because the demand is barely decreasing, according to the researchers. That is, they say, the reason why the Commission did not publish the study earlier. The CAPRI model that was used mainly simulates trade flows and not the behavioral changes expected by the Commission.

Apart from the behavioral changes, the target CO2-decrease in practice will be disappointing according to that report, because the reduced production within the EU member states will be compensated by increased production in other parts of the world with the same or more CO2emissions, the so-called carbon leakage. The carbon leakage could also not be simulated accurately enough, but for the EU itself, we will produce less food and therefore need a larger agricultural area. An exchange that met with much misunderstanding among defenders of land sparing, the idea that intensive agriculture creates space for untouched nature.


Nitrogen Balance

Remarkably enough, it is not only the objectives of expanding the organic area or halving crop protection products that have a significant impact, the ‘halving of the surplus on the nitrogen balance’ is also an objective with major consequences. This ambition, formulated in a sibilant line, is aimed at a strong reduction in livestock, certainly in regions such as Flanders and the Netherlands, where intensive farming takes place on a small surface area, resulting in a high nitrogen load.

All forms of production in Europe are becoming significantly more expensive for consumers. Not only for meat – with almost 45% higher prices pork is the outlier – but also for grains, vegetables and fruit. Cost increases of up to 15% are expected for vegetables, grains remain just below the 10% higher costs. The F2F strategy must be positive for farmers’ incomes, because supply in all those sectors is also shrinking by 15% and more. Although this has largely been calculated without the price elasticities.

Figure 5

The European pork export position would almost completely collapse, we would have to import much more beef and the import of chickens from Brazil and Vietnam would triple. Only the export of milk is increasing slightly, due to a loss of the domestic market for milk proteins.

Figure 7

In the slide
Euractiv now reports that the results of the report have been known within the European Commission since January. It obtained a message from Wolfgang Burtscher, the head of DG AGRI, the European agricultural administration, to European Commissioner Janusz Wojciechowski. In the release, Burcher confirms that the report on the Farm to Fork effects is almost ready and could be published by the end of January.

At the end of May, VILT wrote that a study had been made on the impact of the F2F strategy and that it was said in the corridors of the European Parliament that Frans Timmermans kept the results of this study in his drawer. “If that’s true, European citizens are being lied to by European Commissioner Frans Timmermans,” ABS’s Mark Wulfrancke responded at the time.

During the negotiations, European Commissioner Timmermans had urged that the objectives of the Farm to Fork and the Biodiversity Strategy be included in the CAP legislation as binding targets, ie without the results of the impact study being known to the other negotiators. He then backed out.

The report will be discussed in the European Parliament’s Agriculture Committee on Monday 11 October. There seems to be a breach of confidence among agricultural organizations and members of parliament. “The Farm-to-Fork strategy will be the death knell of the family farmer around the corner, this is a policy tailored to mega-companies such as Unilever and ideological lobby groups such as Greenpeace,” ABS says.

The Boerenbond is also displeased that Timmermans did not release the study earlier. We demand a full evaluation of all possible effects, so that the discussion can finally shift from arbitrary objectives to concrete solutions based on facts, hard data and respect for insights from practice.

Vulnerable to climate change
A study by the Ghent economist Gert Peersman can also be discussed immediately, which also happened to be published in August. Peersman calculated that climate change will hit the economies of the richest countries harder than expected, even more so than the poorest countries. When food becomes more expensive due to crop failures, there is less money for other things. “Most people think that the economic consequences of crop failure and the resulting higher food prices are greater in poorer countries. And that the costs of global warming have so far been limited to the direct damage caused by floods and storms. But the opposite is apparent from our extensive data analysis: the rich countries suffer just more economic damage,” he tells De Standaard.

Peersman and his co-author Jasmien De Winne studied four variables and their interaction: global harvests, weather (deviations in temperature and rainfall from the average per region), the evolution of food prices and the impact on the GDP of each country. The impact of high food prices on GDP turns out to be much greater than expected: “2010, for example, was a disaster year. Then a prolonged drought in Russia affected global grain harvests. As a result, international food prices rose by 30 percent worldwide. That led to a decline in global GDP of no less than 1.5 percent, much more than expected.”

The policy of the European Union has been criticized before from the United States. De Telegraaf was the only Dutch newspaper with alarming headlines to report on the above-mentioned report. The authors themselves presented it critically, but clearly with more reservations. Nevertheless, it is clear about the following: the Green Deal is not good for the environment or for social tranquility in the EU because the policy will reduce prosperity without counterbalancing values ​​that the public loses that will let you accept.

This article appeared on VILT earlier this week.