The impetus for the EU to develop and adopt the Farm to Fork Strategy was the need to make the food system resilient, adopting healthier and more environmentally sustainable practices, including improving animal welfare and switching to healthy and sustainable food.
The crisis in Ukraine has caused big agricultural companies to cry outrage, saying that without access to Ukrainian and Russian fertilizers, grain, gas and oil, it is necessary to turn to EU objectives and return on policies that will make its food system more resilient.
The Farm to Fork strategy, on the contrary, demonstrates foresight. Its deployment will rationalize and guarantee food security by making the EU less permeable to volatility and constraints on international markets. By moving away from the most industrial and intensive forms of animal agriculture and promoting a shift to more plant-based diets, more people can be fed using less land and resources.
The outcry is about pet food, not pet food
Agribusinesses are cynically claiming that the war in Ukraine will cause a food crisis, while the stress is on animal feed. The EU wastes 20% of its food , and exports more food than it imports, with a positive trade balance. 4 to 6 billion euros each month .
Access to cheap animal feed and chemicals for intensive fodder crops is being strained by the war. The Farm to Fork strategy aims to prevent intensive farming and its supply chains from competing with food for people.
The EU produces over 290 million tonnes of cereals, 32 million tonnes more than is used domestically. Yet only 20% go directly to feed people. The lion's share concerns animal feed (56%) and almost as much exported cereals (45 million tonnes) as foodstuffs intended for Europeans.
A resilient food system to face this and future crises
A resilient food system will ensure that locally produced food crops are primarily used as food for people, while farm animals are primarily fed through grazing. Agricultural production is, at present, mainly diverted to intensive breeding. Besides its harmful impact on billions of animals, it supports an economically and medically unhealthy overconsumption of animal products and a reliance on imported foods.
The Farm to Fork Strategy will help reduce the EU's dependence on the production and import of industrial animal feed and allow the EU agricultural sector to increase its production of foodstuffs for the populations. The strategy's objectives of moving towards plant-based diets, reducing consumption of red meat and improving the welfare of farmed animals will help the EU overcome international crises such as the deplorable war that takes place at its borders. Overall, the consumption of animal products would need to be reduced by around 70% in the EU in order to stay within planetary limits.
With the war in Ukraine highlighting the limits of the EU's food system, which is heavy on animal protein, the Commission should speed up the roll-out of the farm to fork strategy: reducing the EU's dependence on meat production that diverts local food crops for people to feed animals and requires significant imports of fodder crops and fertilizers.
With more than 85 NGOs, we sent a letter to Ms Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission; Mr. Frans Timmermans, Executive Vice-President for the European Green Deal; Ms Stella Kyriakides, Commissioner for Health and Food Safety; Mr. Janusz Wojciechowski, Commissioner for Agriculture; and Mr. Virginijus Sinkevičius, Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, asking them to defend the farm-to-table strategy.