Strategy ‘’farm to fork’’: One more victory for the plant-based industry

After HellasVeg and EVU’s intervention towards Members of the European Parliament to avoid the suggested amendments that affected in a negative way the plant-based sector, the initial text of the EU’s Report’s strategy on ‘’Farm to Fork’’ was voted in favor.

The European Commission started to establish a ‘’ Green Agreement’’, in order to make EU environmentally sustainable. The strategy ‘’ Farm to Fork Strategy or F2F’’ consists Green Agreement’s policy in the rural sector.

Recently, the Commission of Environment and agriculture of the European Parliament worked on an initiative report on the strategy of the Commission’s ‘’Farm to Fork’’ plan. This report emphasizes on how to proceed in the regulative initiatives, and sets the main points and requests to the Commission and the direction that proposed legislation should follow regarding the agricultural sector to earn the support of the majority in the European Parliament.

On 19th October, commission’s report was voted in Assembly.

The voted report consisted of 48 amendments that had been submitted to the committees ENVI and  AGRI. The amendments were approved in September. A week before the voting, a series of special or partial amendments were submitted. There had been many reasons that led to the negative vote against those amendments, as this an effort to remove certain goals and messages that had legally binding characteristics.

With the coordinated effort of progressive political, environmental and animal friendly organizations and surely non governmental organizations like ours, these perilous changes in the report had failed in the Assembly and the report passed successfully. 

During the time period before voting, intrigues had not be missing as well as documents that had been leaked to POLITICO EU, revealed the strategy of COPA-COGECA and its alliances to reverse the report. You can read more information regarding that here.

The final report, as it was voted, should be considered as a victory in many views. It includes a powerful message regarding Europe’s need to detox from overconsumption of meat and adopt healthier (like plant based) eating habits. In addition, there are some binding goals for reducing the utilization of pesticides and antimicrobials in agriculture. The Report stresses Europe’s need to push for a more sustainable agriculture worldwide by its commercial and foreign affairs policies. Furthermore, the report is looking for ways to encourage the people to change their consumer behavior, for example introducing labelling laws (labels for the vegan / vegetarian population), possible tax sanctions or rewards, and better education.

The report is approximately 100 pages long and you can find below a brief description of the points of interest of EVU. If you wish to study at your own the whole version of the report you can find it  here

  • §§19-20: Addresses the overuse of AMR medication in animal agriculture and stresses the need to reduce antibiotic overuse in our food supply. The report suggests the use of sanctions should be part of immediate action taken to reduce AMR. The report also advises better animal welfare as an important step towards decreasing the reliance of antibiotics in farming. 
  • §21: Regards GHG emissions from land use. The report seeks to address livestock densities and their related emissions. 
  • §§22-28: Addresses animal welfare concerns. In general, these paragraphs are concerned with using ‘science-based approaches’ towards improving animal welfare. These paragraphs are concerned with caging, transport and slaughter. 
  • §29: Calls for a reduction in close-quarter livestock keeping with regards to its relation with zoonotic diseases.
  • §§38-42 : Highlights the importance of farmers in transitioning to sustainable practices and that national strategic plans being drafted by member states in regards to CAP ensure financial support for farmers to make transitions to more sustainable practices and further calls on the commission to only approve strategic plans that demonstrate a commitment to sustainability.
  • §51: Urges the commission to take food aid into consideration as part of the F2F strategy. To increase food system resilience, it is important to tie food and agricultural policies together at every level. (although not particularly of interest to us, this could spur more public procurement, which we would want to be plant-based). 
  • §59: Expresses disappointment that the F2F strategy does not put enough focus on fisheries. Compels the commission to make ‘sustainable fishing’ and restoring marine and coastal ecosystems a priority.
  • §71: Emphasizes that primary producers should benefit from the transformation of the agricultural sector put forward by the F2F strategy and that unfair trade practices should be curtailed. And that producer prices should cover the cost of production and reflect social, economic and environmental sustainability 
  • §84: Calls for improvements to be made to the EU promotion policy for agricultural and food products, the school lunch scheme and the European Healthy School Lunches initiative. Improvements in these initiatives would strengthen high-quality, sustainable production in agriculture and would promote educational messages based on scientific data. This paragraph also advises that labeling can help consumers. (Please see our blog post on some exciting news about the school milk scheme) 
  • §85: Building on PARA 84, the EU promotions program should emphasize the importance of greening the environment. 
  • §88: Discusses how a population-wide shift in consumption patterns is needed towards more healthy foods, diets and lifestyles, increased consumption of sustainably and regionally produced plants and plant-based foods will help address the overconsumption of meat and ultra-processed products. Further, EU-wide, science-based recommendations would help and encourage consumers and inform member states’ own dietary guidelines. 
  • §89: Highlights the need to make it easier for consumers to choose healthy and sustainable diets and encourages the commission and MS to take a ‘more systematic and evidence-based approach in order to facilitate creating healthy, sustainable and fair food environments instead of relying on a code of conduct.’ Further, the Parliament wants the commission to raise consumer awareness of the impacts of their consumption patterns and provide information on diets that are better for human health and have a lower carbon/environmental footprint.
  • §91: Further development and sustainable innovation in the field of plant protein production and alternative sources of protein in the EU, like insects and algae (please read our blog post about insects) as a way of effectively addressing many of the environmental and climate challenges that EU agriculture is facing, as well as preventing deforestation, biodiversity loss and ecosystem degradation. The report also asks the commission to build on its report on the development of plant proteins (COM(2018) 757) and to present an EU protein transition strategy covering the demands and the supply side to support and boost the sustainable production of protein crops for food and feed — meaning that Europe will hopefully wean itself from protein rich crops grown on deforested land in other parts of the world.
  • §§93-98: Regarding food labeling. Specifically the report calls for clear, concise, mandatory and harmonized front of package labelling, origin labeling, artificial ingredient labeling and sustainability labeling. 
  • §99: Calls for labelling of animal products addressing methods of production (place of birth, living environment, slaughter method) to help consumers make better, informed choices. Stresses that the production and uptake of PB proteins should be better supported and calls for the ‘long-overdue’ harmonization of vegan/vegetarian labeling requirements
  • §100: 3rd party labeling alone is not effective but can complement government sanctioned labeling in the uptake of more sustainable, healthier diets. 
  • §101: Suggests permitting MS to adopt VAT rates, including a zero VAT rate for healthy, sustainable foods and higher VAT rates for unhealthy, unsustainable foods. Includes language encouraging the EC to launch a study to quantify the environmental, societal and health costs of the most popular foods in Europe.
  • §102: Regarding procurement of foods for schools, kindergartens, etc. Although vegetarian and vegan options are not mentioned, this paragraph encourages more sustainable, local procurement and better animal welfare standards.
  • §137: Emphasizes that the EU-Mercosur agreement cannot be ratified since it does not ensure biodiversity protection, especially of the Amazon Rainforest. (Much of the deforestation is related to animal agriculture).

An amendment was added recently calling for impact assessments to be conducted as part of any legislative proposals. 

It was vital that this report passed as is, and we achieved that with your help! Now we must continue to closely monitor and influence upcoming legislation in this area.

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