Farm to Fork’s targets well within reach, confirms JRC study

Posted on August, 02 2021

A new assessment by the European Commission’s in-house scientists shows that well-designed CAP strategic plans will be instrumental to accelerate the sustainability transition and minimise trade-offs.
What would Europe’s agricultural production and markets look like in 2030 if the targets set out in the Farm to Fork Strategy [1] were achieved? Last week, the European Commission released its long-awaited report that provides some encouraging insights.

The report by the scientists from the Commission's Joint Research Centre suggests that, contrary to much of the criticism by Member States, the Farm to Fork targets of boosting organic farming and reducing the use of agrochemicals are well within reach – especially if the national Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) strategic plans are smartly designed and support the adoption and upscaling of climate and nature-friendly agricultural practices. The modelling study also foresees a 20% reduction in agricultural greenhouse gas emissions – and up to 30% if Member States realise the potential of their CAP strategic plans.

“This report puts the ball back in the Member States’ court,” said Jabier Ruiz, Senior Policy Officer for Agriculture at WWF’s European Policy Office. “The study clearly demonstrates that the Farm to Fork targets are realistic, provided that the political will is there to make them happen. It's now up to Member States to design good CAP strategic plans with ambitious eco-schemes.”

Some opponents of the Farm to Fork’s targets have focused on their potential impact on food security in Europe. While it is true that a decreased use of chemical inputs, such as fertilisers and pesticides, could somewhat reduce agricultural yields, this reduction would be negligible in the context of the EU's overall consumption and production. In addition, other Farm to Fork actions, such as the reduction of food waste and a move to more sustainable diets, would serve to counterbalance any decrease in yields.

“Let’s remember that one-fifth of EU food goes to waste and two-thirds of our cereal production is used for animal feed, so this trade-off could be easily absorbed without significant impacts on the food system,” Jabier Ruiz said. “At the farm level, an increase in the CAP subsidies received for delivering on the targets would also help balance out any potential loss of income from markets”.

For more information:

Jabier Ruiz
Senior Policy Officer, Agriculture & Food Systems
WWF European Policy Office

Bartosz Brzezinski
Communications Officer
WWF European Policy Office
Tel: +32 484 28 15 10

Notes to editors:

[1] EU Farm to Fork’s targets for 2030:
  • Reduce the overall use and risk of chemical pesticides by 50% and the use of more hazardous pesticides by 50% by 2030
  • Reduce the use of fertilisers by at least 20% by 2030
  • Reach the objective of at least 25% of the EU’s agricultural land under organic farming by 2030 and a significant increase in organic aquaculture.
  • Reduce by 50% overall EU sales of antimicrobials for farmed animals (not analysed in the JRC study)
  • At least 10% of agricultural area is under high-diversity landscape features.
The report by the scientists from the Joint Research Centre suggests that the Farm to Fork 2030 targets of boosting organic farming and reducing the use of agrochemicals are well within reach.
© Pixabay
Two-thirds of the EU’s cereal production is used for animal feed.
© European Commission