Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) resisted agribusiness lobbying efforts and adopted a resolution to support the EU’s Farm to Fork Strategy, opening the door for measures like pesticide reduction targets and phasing out caged-bird farming by 2027.
“MEPs voted down changes introduced at the last minute as a result of an intense lobbying battle led by the EU’s main agricultural lobby group and aimed at watering down the parliament’s position—except for one amendment tabled by Italian MEP Herbert Dorfmann from the European People’s Party (EPP),” reports EUobserver.
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A total of 452 MEPs voted in favor of the resolution, while 170 voted against and 76 abstained. Dorfmann’s amendment would require impact assessments for legislative proposals made under the strategy, which is in line with standard EU procedure.
The Farm to Fork Strategy is a central part of the European Green Deal and is touted as an opportunity for EU policy to make food production more sustainable. Many Farm to Fork supporters say it will help achieve climate targets where the Common Agriculture Policy—currently the backbone of EU farm subsidies and programs—falls short.
“If we do not take action now to halt the climate crisis and the loss of biodiversity, this will undoubtedly lead to higher food prices and less food security worldwide,” said lead MEP Anja Hazekamp. “The multinationals… won’t profit from a change to a toxic-free, resilient form of agriculture. But the farmers, the ecosystems, and the consumers will benefit from this transition,” she added.
The EU farmers’ association Copa-Cogeca led the lobby campaign using findings from impact studies, some of which were funded by industry players. “However, civil society NGOs slammed that effort as a ‘massive disinformation campaign,’” says EUobserver.
Still, some members of the European People’s Party echoed the arguments of agri-food lobbyists, cautioning that the new strategy could lead to less food being produced in Europe. They accused Frans Timmermans—the EU commissioner in charge of the Green Deal—of refusing to publish a study of the new farming rules’ impact, writes EUobserver.
“It is scandalous that commission vice-president Timmermans has tried to keep the study on the consequences of its Farm to Fork Strategy a secret just because the results were not what he wanted,” Dorfmann said.
The EU commission says the report’s release was postponed because it identified several shortcomings, EUobserver reports. The institution has since decided to release the report, to “enable a discussion with the scientific community” and allow the study’s shortcomings to be addressed in later research.