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Future of agriculture and climate protection in Poland. How to use opportunities arising from the European Green Deal?

A webinar about challenges and opportunities for Polish agriculture in the light of CAP: „Future of agriculture and climate protection. How to use opportunities provided by European Dreen Deal?”, organised by EIT Food CLC North-East together with Institute of Public Affairs and European Climate Foundation.

22 Mar 2021
EIT Food North-East

"There is no bigger challenge facing Europe and the whole world right now than preventing climate catastrophe. Green Deal in agriculture is the answer to this challenge"

– marked at the beginning Milda Kraużlis, RIS Programme Manager in EIT Food CLC NE. "EU Green Deal Strategy sets highly ambitious goals, which are planned to be achieved in 3 decades. Transformation in agriculture needs to be carried out with respect to the farmers’ interests and with care of the future of family farms" – said dr Paulina Sobiesiak-Penszko, Head of the Sustainable Development and Climate Policy Programme in the Institute of Public Affairs. 

According to Maciej Golubiewski, Chief of the Cabinet of the European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development Janusz Wojciechowski, new strategies for EU farming connect climate protection guidelines with attempts to keep economic EU economic growth. This growth does not need to have strictly financial aspect. It means primarily opportunities for the development of new technologies and the demand for innovations.  

As Commissioner’s representative admitted, presented goals are aspirational and political, it is Members States governments’ role to prepare the national strategic plans taking into account the circumstances and allowing farmers to use the potential of their farms without undermining their functioning.  The governments need to carry out a thorough analysis of opportunities and risks that the fulfilment of the Brussels goals might bring.  The overarching goal of the Green Deal is to increase the contribution of agriculture in combating climate change and protecting the environment. However, the authors of the EU strategy do not want the foreseen transformation to undermine Europe’s food security.  

Practices implemented in our farms and the approach of the Polish farmers to primary production put our nation in a much better starting position on the way to achieving the goals set in the Green Deal, compared to the countries such as Denmark or France, where dominates intensive production based on much bigger amount of fertilizers and pesticides – highlights Chief of Commissioner’s Wojciechowski Cabinet. 

"Agriculture is at the very center of the current climate crisis, because it plays a double role in it – it is both its perpetrator and a victim"

-  pointed out Małgorzata Bojańczyk, Director of the Polish Sustainable Agriculture Association „ASAP”. The transformation towards sustainable and ecological agriculture is a necessity, but it is also important that this transformation is fair, meaning that CAP guarantees farmers relevant support and incentives to make the change.  According to Małgorzata Bojańczyk, farmers need to get out of their so-called comfort zone, break the routine and look for new solutions for their farms that will allow to balance the primary production.  

"Last developments in Texas show how deep and significant repercussions the climate change can bring" - marked prof. Jerzy Kozyra, Department of Bioeconomy and Systems Analysis in the Institute of Soil Science and Plant Cultivation – "The situation on the Vistula is also a valuable lesson for us. Although, maintaining an icebreaker fleet seems unprofitable, we also need to be prepared for such winters as this one. It is extremely important for us to understand the seriousness of the situation and based on that the direction taken in the new CAP is adequate. However, sudden and revolutionary changes are not advisable. We need to act reasonably and in stages to design production systems, which will guarantee access to food in a longer perspective."

"Agriculture is unlikely to ever become carbon neutral, as it is against the primary production, but the CO2 emissions can be reduced, we can act to keep carbon in the soil" – noted the speaker.

New agriculture models have a big potential and should play their role in the future shape of food system. Above all, however, agriculture should be rationalized in such a way that the production and consumption of food takes place locally.

Farmers were also invited to take part in the discussion. While not doubting the validity and necessity of climate and environment protection, they could not have not express their concerns regarding the implementation of EU strategies.

"For 7 years I have been struggling with the problem of drought on my farm, so I support all initiatives to counteract unfavorable climate changes" - said Marek Kałużyński, farmer from the lubelskie region."Changes planned in the new CAP should be assessed critically. Requirements towards farmers are increasing dramatically, while the support remains at the same or even lower level. Full subsidies will depend on the implementation of eco-schemes. It is hard not to notice that limiting the use of fertilizers and plant protection products will result in a reduction in yields, and may also sometimes mean their lack. The profitability of production will drop drastically, and I doubt that the prices of agricultural produce will compensate for these losses. The implementation of new cultivation technologies, such as no-till cultivation, is associated with the purchase of very expensive machines and the dependence of farmers on services that are able to properly calibrate these machines, for example. It is also difficult not to be afraid of an increase in control, bureaucracy and possible penalties. Farmers are already fed up with this constant surveillance and restrictions. We want to protect the climate and the environment, but on the farm it has to be in line with business. I will not be isolated saying that proposed strategies burden farmers with the transformation costs. I say “yes” for climate protection, but not at farmers’ expense."

"We have been implementing biodiversity on our farm for many years, we have extensive experience in precision farming, we use a weather station and we conduct pest monitoring" - says Ewa Krasnodębska, co-owner of a 350-hectare family farm and author of the blog rolniknaobcasach.pl. "I believe that we are ecologically aware and conduct responsible production. However, it is difficult for us to uncritically support the actions of the EU in the field of agricultural policy. For more than two decades, farmers have been urged to scale up production, but now we are being forced to reduce it."

More about the webinar in Polish: https://www.isp.org.pl/pl/aktualnosci/przyszlosc-rolnictwa-a-ochrona-klimatu-jak-wykorzystac-szanse-ktore-daje-europejski-zielony-lad

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