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What is the “Farm to Fork” strategy?

More than a year ago, the European Commission published a long-awaited strategy: Farm to Fork or F2F for short. It is part of the Green Deal, the most ambitious legislative proposal to date. It comes from the EU Commission, whose five-year term began in December 2019. Broadly speaking, the Farm to Fork strategy aims to make the European food system more sustainable in many aspects. It also aims to reduce the impact of the system on third countries.

So far, the strategy has largely met with a positive response from civil society. The farm-to-plate approach affects many sectors – from agriculture to food labeling. Why is it crucial for the future European food systems? To understand this, we need to look at the strategy in detail. We explain all the important aspects to you. Here you can find out what impact F2F has on you and your customers.

What is the Green Deal?

The Green Deal is a concept drawn up by the EU Commission. Its main goal is to make the EU climate neutral by 2050. This should be achieved with measures in relation to these areas:

  • financing
  • power supply
  • traffic
  • trade
  • Industry
  • Agriculture
  • forestry

For agriculture, the focus is on “greenhouse gases from livestock farming”. The “farm to fork” strategy and that of biodiversity are essential.

What is the “Farm to Fork” strategy and who does it affect?

F2F is at the heart of the Green Deal and a comprehensive ten year plan. Together with the biodiversity strategy, it represents a package of measures. It recognizes the interactions between healthy people, societies, and a healthy planet. The package comprises a total of 27 measures. F2F aims to contain the climate crisis, reverse species extinction and ensure food supplies.

All stations “from the field to the fork” for consumers should be designed to be sustainable. In this way, the foundations of life such as water, soil and the air we breathe are preserved. In addition, animal welfare is ensured.

The measures need to be converted into bills to be effective. This is done by the EU Parliament and the EU member states.

Every EU country has to follow the “farm to fork” strategy by implementing it at national level. In this way everyone contributes to achieving the EU-wide goals.

The strategy is in line with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It also aims to raise standards around the world through international cooperation and trade policy. In this way, their ecological change should not be offset by the externalization of conventional practices in other regions.

What is the biodiversity strategy?

The aim of the biodiversity strategy is to bring biodiversity in Europe to recovery by the year 2030. Against the background of the corona crisis, society will be strengthened against threats such as these in the future:

  • Effects of climate change
  • Forest fires
  • Food insecurities
  • Outbreaks of epidemics – among other things by protecting wild animals and plants and combating illegal wildlife trafficking

A number of measures and commitments are to be implemented by 2030.

  • Establishment of a larger EU-wide network of protected areas on land and at sea
  • Establish an EU plan to restore nature
  • Initiation of measures to enable the necessary profound change and
  • to address global biodiversity challenges

These actions will show that the EU is ready to lead by example in tackling the global biodiversity crisis. The European Union would also like to work towards the adoption of a global framework for the protection of biodiversity.

Which measures were decided in the “Farm to Fork” strategy?

  • 10 percent of the organic cultivation areas are to be equipped with elements to promote biodiversity. This includes flower strips, hedges, ponds and dry stone walls.
  • Concepts against food waste must be introduced.
  • There should be more organic food in canteens and system restaurants.
  • Packaging must be designed to be more sustainable.
  • A nutritional label is planned so that consumers in all EU countries can immediately see how nutritious a food is.

What are the main goals of this strategy?

In the food industry in particular, there are many goals to be achieved. Sustainable food production and food security must be guaranteed. Sustainable practices should find their way into different areas. These include food processing, wholesaling and retailing, the hospitality industry and communal catering, for example in canteens and hospitals.

But everyone can also do something – with the help of sustainable consumption of food and drinks and the transition to a healthy, sustainable diet.

The goals of the “Farm to Fork” strategy also include reducing food losses and waste. For example, an apple with a bruise does not need to be disposed of immediately. If there is a rotten one in a container of tomatoes, the rest of the tomatoes are not necessarily bad too.

Finally, food fraud should be contained and combated along the entire chain of creation.

What is food fraud?

The term “food fraud” came up especially after the horse meat scandal in 2013. In Germany, Europe and worldwide there are different definitions.

Basically, food fraud means that foodstuffs were deliberately placed on the market, the nature of which does not match their previously warranted properties. In this way, food fraudsters hope for an economic and financial advantage. Food fraud can or does not have to be associated with a health risk for consumers. Based on these criteria, food fraud can be unequivocally determined:

  • Intent
  • Violation of EU food law
  • Making profit
  • Deceiving the consumer

Examples of food fraud are

  • Incorrectly declared beef products to which horse meat is added,
  • alleged virgin olive oil, which is a cheap, chlorophyll-colored salad oil,
  • Prawns that are sprayed with gel to increase weight,
  • natural honey that is stretched with sugar solution,
  • Noble fish for which the fish species was incorrectly stated or
  • Food declared as organic that has been grown conventionally.

Food fraud cases are criminally relevant and are prosecuted by the police, public prosecutor and customs authorities in cooperation with food control authorities. Widely branched supply chains increase the chances of fraud.

How can you avoid food fraud? In the best case scenario, you can easily trace every food back to the manufacturer. This becomes easier the shorter the supply chain is. At Ehlert, we ensure that supply chains are as unbranched as possible. With us you get products from our own production as well as from carefully selected dealers.

What are the key objectives of the “Farm to Fork” strategy that are essential for achieving all objectives?

In addition to the actual goals, the EU Commission named key goals that are essential for achieving all of F2F’s goals. Some of them also reflect the EU biodiversity strategy.

A key goal is the expansion of organic farming in all EU countries to 25 percent. Pesticides and antibiotics will be reduced by up to 50 percent by 2030. This also means: The total sale of antimicrobial agents for livestock and aquaculture is to be reduced by a total of 50 percent. The nutrient losses must also be reduced by at least 50 percent. At the same time, it must be ensured that the soil fertility does not deteriorate. For this reason, the use of fertilizers is to be reduced by at least 20 percent by 2030.

Has the EU ever had a “farm to fork” or a comprehensive “food” strategy?

This is the first time that the EU is proposing a “farm to fork” strategy for sustainable systems. It is an attempt to create a comprehensive food policy. In the past, food issues were dealt with separately by separate – and sometimes irreconcilable – policies in different departments such as agriculture, the environment or trade.

A uniform food policy is needed to implement a comprehensive approach to 180 degree rotation in the food system. For this it is not enough to just address the areas of food production, agriculture and trade in a coordinated manner. Food and environmental quality, health, resource and land management, ecology, social and cultural values and the entire agricultural and food chain must also be taken into account.

Is F2F to be implemented in a binding manner for the EU states?

Overall, the strategy is not binding. It will only do this through the implementation of the goals and specifications laid down there by the EU member states. The measures of F2F are implemented through various legislations, newly created and adapted existing policies. One example is the common agricultural policy (CAP).

How are the goals of the “Farm to Fork” strategy achieved?

As with all goals, supportive measures are also required here so that they can be achieved. In which ways can the actors in the food system be made to operate and operate more sustainably? How can they develop alternatives to chemical pesticides or comply with labeling systems? The key: knowledge, training and a shift in financial support. F2F proposes several reforms of existing policies:

  • Review of the animal welfare ordinance
  • Review of the directive on the sustainable use of pesticides

The objectives and targets should also be reflected in the common agricultural policy. This is made possible by national strategic plans that are currently being developed by the individual countries. The EU Commission will present a legislative proposal for a framework for a sustainable food system by 2023. In this way national policies can be coordinated and the coherence of all food-related policies can be ensured.

How does the strategy affect European agriculture and the food we buy / eat?

“From farm to fork” is intended to help European agriculture change over to more sustainable practices in the coming years. This is supposed to be done by reducing chemical pesticides and fertilizers and making products more environmentally friendly. Improved labeling of nutritional values on foods and their origin makes the food chain more transparent for consumers.

The “Farm to Fork” strategy proposes a number of measures to make healthy and sustainable food more economically and physically accessible for everyone.

Public institutions such as schools or day-care centers have to offer more organic food thanks to stricter standards in procurement.

In addition, companies should reduce their ecological footprint and reformulate their products in accordance with the guidelines for healthy and sustainable nutrition.

How does this strategy support farmers and fishermen?

Have you already made the transition to sustainable practices? Then the F2F strategy will reward you and your efforts. If you still need to make adjustments, she will help you.

The common agricultural policy and the common fisheries policy (CFP) remain key instruments to facilitate the transition to a sustainable food system while realizing a decent life for fishermen, farmers and their families.

There are still uncertainties about the specific steps to be taken by farmers and fishermen to provide support. In addition, the question arises as to which instruments should be used to facilitate the transition.

Agreement on catch quotas in the Baltic Sea

According to the Federal Minister of Agriculture Julia Klöckner, “a good balance has been found through the” Farm to Fork “strategy, which enables the sustainable management of fish stocks. Because the situation of the fish stocks in the Baltic Sea is still difficult. The causes include

  • Climate change,
  • Eutrophication (enrichment of nutrients in an ecosystem or part of it),
  • Marine litter and
  • industrial pollution.

Where fishing is no longer possible due to the poor condition, the fishermen should get help.

How does the F2F strategy affect you as a consumer?

At first you will not notice anything about the implementation of the “Farm to Fork” strategy. The reason: F2F is initially just a framework of recommendations. If the strategy shows its first successes, its contents will be incorporated into draft legislation by the EU member states. The common agricultural policy is the largest and one of the most important templates. It was redesigned in autumn 2020 and reformed from 2023. The strategy “From farm to fork” serves as a basis and describes what the consumers’ tax money is ideally used for. Each tax-paying citizen contributes 120 euros per year to the CAP.

In the long run, i.e. by 2030, you as a consumer will notice that the supply of sustainable food will increase. The organic share is expected to increase in restaurants, canteens and other large kitchens within the next 10 years.

The environment will also visibly reflect that the measures of the “Farm to Fork” strategy are being adhered to and implemented.

Can this strategy be changed and improved?

“Farm to Fork” is a long-term plan for the next 9 years. It is based on the implementation and revision of many specific policies. The core commitments are unlikely to change in the areas of the food chain. Therefore, as part of civil society, you must ensure that the F2F strategy is implemented. In the dialogue with politicians, you can also provide advice on the various reforms with your feedback.

For the first time in the EU, the entire food system is being considered

From production to the consumer. The “Farm to Fork” strategy stands for sustainable and economically viable agriculture and food management. It relies on innovation and digital technology. It is also the common thread for the future work of the European Commission – national, European and global in all policy areas.