Europe’s Green Deal Is A Rotten Deal For Farmers

  • Date: 14/06/20
  • Marcus Holtkoetter, Farm Journal Ag Web

For farmers – and everybody – the European Green Deal is a rotten deal.

The European Commission has a plan to eliminate modern farming in Europe.

The details emerged last month, as part of a “European Green Deal” announced late last year that calls for the continent to become “climate neutral” by 2050.

The commission speaks of “turning climate and environmental challenges into opportunities.” It also talks about “making the transition just and inclusive for all.”

It should have added three words: “except for farmers.”

That’s because the EU Commission just released its “Farm to Fork” strategy, which is the agricultural portion of the European Green Deal. It announces a series of unrealistic goals: In the next decade, farmers like me are supposed to slash our use of crop-protection products by half, cut our application of fertilizer by 20 percent, and transform a quarter of total farmland into organic production.

None of this, of course, is supposed to disrupt anybody’s dinner.

Europeans are blessed to live in a well-fed society. We have stable governments, reliable infrastructure, and advanced economies. We also have some of the best farmland in the world, with good soil and strong yields, year after year. Through intensive farming, we achieve excellent results—and we don’t face the problems of hunger and malnutrition that plague less fortunate people in other societies.

What the European Commission now proposes, essentially, is smaller harvests. For consumers, this will lead directly to one thing: Higher prices. Food will cost more.

There’s also a deeper problem. How are farmers supposed to make a living when we’re growing fewer crops and selling less food? The commission fails to consider one of the most likely results of its misbegotten approach to agriculture: When farmers can’t turn a profit, they’ll quit farming.

If that happens, the smaller harvests will shrink even further.

This defies what the commission says is its major goal, which is to make “the EU’s economy sustainable.” It needs to understand that there is no such thing as economic sustainability without a sustainable economy.

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