European farmers are finding it harder to provide food supplies in a sustainable way at affordable prices, according to a new report on challenges facing farmers and the plant science industry.
The report by UK agricultural analysts, AgbioInvestor, says that several issues are expected to “present considerable challenges for the grower and result in a continued low rate of agricultural productivity in Europe in comparison to key competing regions”.
These issues are referenced as: a cut in financial support for farming; political difficulties covering regulations and legislative decisions, including for plant protection products; the increasing application of the precautionary principle and hazard-based approaches in technology approvals; the limited involvement in precision agriculture along with a reduction in plant protection products and the lack of access to agricultural biotechnology.
Citing the EU’s own data, “long-term farming profitability is only currently attainable by financial support in the form of subsidy from the EU”, said the report. “Since the agricultural subsidy in the EU has been dissociated from yield, and the ‘single farm payment’ system introduced, the impact of subsidy on production has been reduced. When the economics of crop production are assessed the subsidy no longer comes into account, as the payment is received regardless. As a result, a farmer’s decision on how to operate is made based on costs and potential income, directly affected by crop prices”.
The report calls on politicians to fully support scientifically-based, risk-regulated, registration systems, which it argues will help avoid trade distortions. And position the EU as a more attractive area for research and development of new technologies needed by European farmers.
According to EU statistics, there are 22 million farmers and agricultural workers employed in the agri-food sector, with about 44 million jobs in food processing, food retail and food services dependent on agriculture.
The report concludes that “by applying a more consistent and predictable decision-making process and a risk-based regulatory system for crop protection products and biotechnology, the EU can meet its production potential for a sustainable future benefiting consumers and farmers in the EU and abroad”.
For the full report see here
Source: AgbioInvestor – The challenges facing agriculture and the plant science industry in the EU