EU Will Leverage Summit for Green Deal Implementation

The UN Food Summit will be held this September in New York after a pre-summit gathering in Italy this July. According to the UN, the Summit’s purpose is to “generate significant action and measurable progress towards the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development” and “awaken the world to the fact that we must work together to transform the way the world produces, consumes and thinks about food.”

The five action tracks for the Summit appear to be a common vision for all, however, political priorities will play a major role in how these tracks will be achieved in the coming decade.

UN Food Summit Action Tracks:

1. Ensure access to safe and nutritious food for all.
2. Shift to sustainable consumption patterns.
3. Boost nature-positive production.
4. Advance equitable livelihoods.
5. Build resilience to vulnerabilities, shocks and stress.

The World Health Organization and UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) will play a role with NGOs to oversee these five actions. 

EU Holding Firm in Commitment to Climate Neutrality by 2050

The EU has held firm in its commitment to climate neutrality by 2050 and is increasing its ambition for 2030 through a comprehensive European Green Deal. In turn, the EU released its Farm to Fork and Biodiversity Strategies that would impose restrictions on EU agriculture through targeted reductions in the use of fertilizer (20%), pesticides (50%), antimicrobials (50%), and the removal of existing farmland from agricultural use (10%) by 2030 relative to 2020 levels.

This policy shift will affect international markets for ag commodities and the broader food system. U.S. exports to the EU in 2019 totaled $267.6 billion and accounted for 16.3 percent of overall U.S. exports.

Researchers at USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS) evaluated the potential impacts of the Farm to Fork and Biodiversity Strategies that aims to switch EU production agriculture to organic practices and away from using technology to grow food. 

The reduction is based on the EAT-Lancet report encouraging plant-based dietary shifts to feed a future population of 10 billion. The EAT Lancet Commission states: “A planetary health plate should consist by volume of approximately half a plate of vegetables and fruits; the other half displayed by contribution to calories, should consist of primarily whole grains, plant protein sources, unsaturated plant oils and (optionally) modest amounts of animal sources of protein.”

Eat Lancet Diet
EAT-Lancet Diet Plate; Source: EatForum.org

Why It Matters

If the proposed policies are put into place only in the EU, ERS predicts U.S. production of certain commodities could increase but would be almost entirely offset by reduced production in other commodities, with less than 0.5 percent total agriculture growth. 

The same effect would occur if EU trade partners also adopted the policies, in which U.S. agricultural production would generally remain flat. 

If there is global adoption of the EU’s input-reducing strategies, worldwide food and agricultural production volumes could fall as much as 11 percent. The United States could witness a 9 percent decrease in food and agricultural output.

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