Updated: Oct 21, 2021
50 percent less pesticides, fertilisers and antibiotics by 2030: this is the core of the EU's Farm to Fork (F2F) strategy. The European Parliament adopted an opinion supporting the Commission's plans by 452 votes to 170 with 76 abstentions.
"In view of the challenges posed by the climate crisis, this decision is an important and logical step that we welcome," says Kathrin Jäckel, Managing Director of the German Organic Food Association. From the organic sector's point of view, it is now important that the EU Commission quickly turns the plans into concrete laws. "The political framework conditions are needed now so that the ecological turnaround in the agriculture and food sector can succeed," explains Jäckel.
In the run-up, the European farmers' association Copa-Cogeca had deliberately tried to stir up opposition to the EU strategy among MEPs. The organisation Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO) has published documents from Copa-Cogeca and other lobbying associations.
CEO sees them as "a coordinated attack by industrial agri-food lobbies on the EU's Farm to Fork sustainable food strategy". The lobbying strategy aimed to "create an echo chamber of anti-Farm to Fork messages. It did this by using individual results from a series of impact assessment studies, many of which were funded by the industry itself.
As the documents show, the agricultural lobby's argumentation aimed to praise the principles of the EU strategy, but to prevent concrete targets backed up with figures and annual data.
How the lobby influences MPs
An important goal of the lobby campaign was the European Parliament's vote on F2F. Already on 10 September, the Agriculture and Environment Committees had submitted an opinion to the Parliament, which supported F2F without reservation. Copa-Cogeca motivated its members with an argumentation aid to talk to the MEPs and thus at least managed to postpone the vote in plenary - to 19 October.
Martin Häusling, organic farmer and agricultural policy spokesman of the Green Group in the European Parliament, spoke of a blatant and backward-looking lobbying policy of the association: "The alleged representation of agricultural interests commits a denial attitude towards reality" said Häusling. Agriculture has to make its contribution to climate protection. "And it is still one of the main causes of species loss and water pollution.
The approval of the Parliament must now be quickly followed by consistent action by the Commission, Häusling warns: "In order for its own strategy to be a success, the Commission must present a law as soon as possible to implement the requirements.