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European agriculture should develop towards Agroecology


26/09/2019 - 

The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) emphasises in an opinion document that the European Union (EU) needs to put greater emphasis on short supply chains and agroecology in farming in order to preserve its agriculture and make it more resilient to new challenges, such as climate change. Agroecology is also a way to secure our food supply, make our food healthier and as such raise its value. Short supply chains will help smaller farms to increase their income and enliven rural areas.

Deregulation of agricultural markets, strong price volatility and low farming incomes on the producers' side along with a growing awareness and concern regarding healthy and good quality food on the consumers' side have already driven some farmers to change their methods of production and marketing.

Over the whole of Europe, new innovative agricultural systems are developing that connect consumers and producers to each other, like community-supported agriculture (CSA) and other "basket" schemes. Most of these producers practice organic or other environment-friendly farming without being covered by a label.

‘’Applying agroecology in agriculture represents a paradigm shift towards fighting climate change, rebuilding living ecosystems and protecting water, soil and all the resources that agricultural production depends on. Therefore it is important to put a greater focus on short supply chains and agroecology’’, underlined Ms Savigny.

In order to agroecology project across Europe, the EESC proposes a structured multifaceted action plan involving the regional, national and EU level. Existing programmes should also be directed towards supporting measures in agroecology and short supply chains and particularly support:

  • Education  and advice services regarding transformation, direct sales and agroecology;
  • Research and innovation regarding producers' needs in short chains and in agroecology;
  • Exchange networks between farmers;
  • Adjustments to applications of food legislation to small-scale production as well as requirements regarding labelling;
  • Access to finance to put in place the necessary structures (CAP second pillar).

A comprehensive food policy, which th EESC has been advocating for years and for which it could be a facilitator, could form the framework of the action plan. 

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Photo credit by: European Economic and Social Committee