ICMSA President says publication of EU’s ‘Farm to Fork’ strategy is “last chance” to rebalance food supply chain
The President of ICMSA has warned that tomorrow’s announcement of the EU’s ‘Farm to Fork’ strategy represents what Pat McCormack called “a last chance” to preserve what’s left of the EU’s family farm system and wrest back control and direction of the EU’s Food Supply Chain from the retail corporations who Mr. McCormack said had the greatest interest in preserving the present “broken” system.
Mr. McCormack said that the challenges facing farming and food production were almost beyond comprehension. More food has to be produced for a growing population but on an increasingly sustainable basis that meant that traditional ways of increasing supply had to be curtailed or discarded. He said that farmers accepted both the scientific reality and the scale of the challenge that had to be met, but Mr. McCormack was adamant that it is the starting point that is chosen by the EU that will ultimately determine whether or not their ‘Farm to Fork’ strategy is successful. He stressed that this must mean a reversal of the traditional EU approach whereby the delivery of cheap foot at retail level is deemed the most important element with everything else positioned to serve that.
The ICMSA President said that it was precisely that aim that had contributed most to, for instance, the stunning levels of food wasted at present – 20% according to the ‘Farm to Fork’ briefing documents.
ICMSA and other farm organisations had long argued that instead of constructing the system backwards from a position that prioritised retail of high standard food at cheap prices, that the system should start with both the sustainability of the food and the sustainability of the farming communities who produce it.
“Reforming our present broken food supply system is like reforming any other seemingly intractable problem: the first step is the vital one. If that first step is wrong then every step after it brings you further away from the solution. The absolutely fundamental question here, and we’ll know the answer tomorrow, is whether the EU’s first step is going to be towards a solution or continuing on the present path that brought us to this cliff edge. The solution has to start with societies and corporations paying the real price of the food they consume: the ‘cheap food’ policy advocated and implemented by the retail corporations and endorsed by the politicians has undermined environmental sustainability and utterly destroyed the economic viability of the farming communities that produced our food. That’s the place to start and we should move from that position forward”, said the ICMSA President.
“But if tomorrow we are told that the strategy is going to start from a position that doesn’t see, or want, changes at consumer or retail level then we’ll know that everyone has wasted their time. Farmers will not accept a strategy that simply imposes further restrictions on them alone, the strategy must ensure a proper price for sustainable food and the use of third country imports to undermine sustainable food production must be stopped as part of that strategy”, concluded Mr. McCormack.
Ends 19 May 2020
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