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Family Farming Knowledge Platform

The Future of Food and Farming

The EU's farm sector and rural areas are major players in terms of the Union's well-being and its future. EU agriculture is one of the world's leading producers of food, and guarantees food security for over 500 million European citizens. The EU's farmers are also the first stewards of the natural environment, as they care for the natural resources of soil, water, air and biodiversity on 48% of the EU's land (foresters a further 36%) and provide essential carbon sinks and the supply of renewable resources for industry and energy. They also depend directly on these natural resources. Large numbers of jobs depend on farming, either within the sector itself (which provides regular work for 22 million persons) or within the wider food sector (farming, food processing and related retail and services together provide around 44 million jobs). The EU's rural areas as a whole are home to 55% of its citizens1 while serving as major bases for employment, recreation and tourism.

None of these benefits can however be taken for granted. Unlike most other economic sectors, farming is strongly affected by the weather; it is also frequently tested by volatile prices, natural disasters, pests and diseases – with the result that, every year, at least 20% of farmers lose more than 30% of their income compared with the average of the last three years. At the same time pressure on natural resources is still clearly present partly as a result of some farming activities. Climate change threatens to make all of the above-mentioned problems weigh more heavily. The Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) should therefore lead a transition towards a more sustainable agriculture.

 

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Publisher: European Commission
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Organization: European Commission
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Year: 2017
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Country/ies: European Union (Member Organization)
Geographical coverage: European Union (European Union)
Content language: English
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Type: Report

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