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Farmers Warn of Green Deal’s Pitfalls Despite Good Intentions

FOOD & AGRICULTUREFarmers Warn of Green Deal's Pitfalls Despite Good Intentions

Farmers fear that EU regulations, intended to protect the climate, will impact not only their business but eventually other social groups as well, dampening the enthusiasm for an eco-friendly approach to agricultural production. “The Green Deal is more ideology than idea,” says Witold Boguta, President of the National Union of Fruit and Vegetable Producers’ Groups. He notes that part of the Green Deal is not new, as some elements have been implemented in Poland for over two decades.

The European Green Deal is currently the hottest topic in EU policy. This term encompasses a wide range of political and legal initiatives prepared by the European Commission to help achieve EU climate neutrality by 2050. Contrary to popular belief, these initiatives do not solely concern agriculture but also broadly involve innovations across the continent.

From the beginning, the Green Deal has sparked intense emotions. The first protests against these regulations appeared in Europe in 2019, coinciding with the European Commission’s announcement of a special communication on the subject. Polish farmers and agricultural producer organizations have strongly opposed these ideas.

“Representatives of agricultural organizations from across Europe, as early as 2019 at meetings such as Copa Cogeca and later in subsequent years, raised numerous comments and objections to this idea or ideology. Considering that the European Commission continuously resisted assessing the impacts of implementing the Green Deal, I can say it is more of an ideology than an idea,” says Witold Boguta to Newseria Biznes, President of the National Union of Fruit and Vegetable Producers’ Groups.

Farmers point out that while the Green Deal might seem like a very beneficial solution, especially given the increasing ecological awareness of consumers and the popularity of healthy food, critics warn that these slogans hide many pitfalls that are dangerous not only for farmers but also for consumers.

“Today, the Green Deal has affected agricultural producers; they have already felt it in their farms. However, over time, it will affect other social groups and will certainly not evoke enthusiasm,” the expert claims.

Interestingly, vegetable and fruit producers note that some elements of the Green Deal have been implemented for over 20 years. They do not oppose the idea of producing higher-quality food but highlight several problems that could severely impact their operations, including bureaucracy.

“The European Green Deal is an opportunity because it allows producing better quality food, which could potentially be more competitive. However, the problem associated with the Green Deal is the massive, pervasive bureaucracy that farmers and producers, including those of fruits and vegetables, face. There is definitely much to be done here,” says Witold Boguta.

Producers of fruits and vegetables note that under the pressure of protests, the European Commission has made some concessions.

“The European Commission has now taken a step back in the direction expected by producers. I don’t know if this is a lasting trend or just a strategic retreat ahead of the European Parliament elections. Time will tell. In any case, the European Green Deal, its rules, and the entire bureaucratic framework simply terrify farmers,” explains the President of the National Union of Fruit and Vegetable Producers’ Groups.

The discussion on the European Green Deal coincides with record export data for agri-food products from Poland. According to the National Support Centre for Agriculture (KOWR), 2023 saw the highest ever value of total exports of such goods, amounting to €51.8 billion, or about PLN 236 billion. This represents an 8.1% annual increase compared to 2022.

“This means that our agri-food products are highly desired and bought worldwide. However, nothing is given once and for all; one must constantly fight for existing markets and acquire new ones. Both the administration and the industry are doing a lot in this regard. The quality of these products, the fact that they are European, is already a value-added factor in many parts of the world, making them highly sought after,” assesses Witold Boguta.

This indicates that Poland is already aligning with the quality standards related to the Green Deal. Implementing some elements of this European policy could benefit Polish agriculture. Nonetheless, the bureaucracy-related issues could hinder producers, which are the primary concerns of farmers growing vegetables and fruits.

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