Unstable situation on agricultural markets
After Russia blocked Ukrainian ports, exporters were forced to limit sales. Suddenly, the clearing of communication routes and the resumption of exports became a priority for both the Ukrainians themselves and grain recipients from all over the world. The war caused a sharp increase in food prices, which consumers see every day in stores. Is this good news for farmers? Not really, because agricultural production costs have also skyrocketed, mainly due to rising energy prices. Since February 2022, we have been observing a large volatility of the situation on agricultural markets.
Are EU plans too ambitious?
The situation is also not improved by the "From Farm to Fork" strategy, which is part of the European Green Deal, which is still being processed by the European Commission. It introduces many elements that raise serious concerns among farmers. The "ambitious" plans to make agriculture more environmentally friendly and less climate-influencing put into question the profitability of continuing agricultural production.
The CAP Strategic Plan 2023-2027 introduced a number of new solutions, the sense of which is strongly questioned by cereal producers. The main complaint is the fear of a drastic drop in production. Production that can be replaced with cheap food from third countries where strict EU standards do not apply.
Risk management and plant protection
This is the case, for example, with the new approach to plant protection products. Brussels wants a "rigid" reduction in the use of plant protection products and the associated risk at the level of 50% by 2030. These plans are very arbitrary and difficult to achieve in the context of the current socio-economic and political challenges facing Europe. It should also be borne in mind that a recent Eurostat survey shows that some Member States have already reduced the sale of pesticides compared to 2011 levels.
EU farmers want the setting of minimum thresholds for national reduction targets to be as flexible as possible, taking into account the historical reduction in use and the geographic and socio-economic conditions in different Member States. It is considered absurd to introduce a definition of the so-called sensitive areas, the interpretation of which could result in recognizing the whole of Poland as such an area, and this would result in the introduction of a complete ban on the use of plant protection products. This would be the end of agricultural production. Farmers are concerned that the new rules would take the form of a regulation which is binding on Member States in its entirety and directly, rather than a directive which gives more freedom to achieve the mandatory target.
This does not mean, however, that farmers wring their hands and do nothing. There will be innovative agricultural techniques that are environmentally friendly and at the same time do not cause a drastic decrease in yields. No-tillage, deep fertilization or strip-till sowing are not yet common, but they are becoming more and more popular.
In turn, science is working on new genomic techniques to create plants that are more resistant to pests, diseases and environmental conditions or to the effects of climate change (e.g. droughts or frosts) and require less plant protection products and fertilizers. It is an alternative to GMOs, which are not popular in EU societies. In practice, this means that NGT plants can contribute to the objectives of the European Green Deal, in particular the Farm to Fork Strategy and the Biodiversity Strategy.
We invite you to the debate
Participants of the debate "Challenges for the Polish grain industry in the face of geopolitical changes" will discuss the main aspects of the above subject and will try to develop a package of solutions and recommendations for the Polish administration and European Union institutions. The discussion will be attended by, among others: Justyna Jasińska from the Polish Association of Potatoes and Agricultural Seeds Producers, Marcin Gryn from the Polish Association of Cereals Producers, Adam Tański - former two-time Minister of Agriculture in the governments of Jan Krzysztof Bielecki and Leszek Miller, Mirosław Pojmaj - representative of the company dealing with plant breeding and Marcin Mucha from the Polish Plant Protection Association.
The debate is organized by the Polish Association of Potatoes and Agricultural Seeds Producers, the task was financed by the Fund for the Promotion of Cereal Grains and Processed Cereals.
The debate, which will take place on April 19 at 11:30, is part of the European Congress of Innovative Solutions for Rural Areas and Agriculture POLSKA WIEŚ XXI (Warsaw, April 19-20, 2023). The main goal of this event is to present specific solutions and examples showing that agriculture and rural areas are not only a place of production and delivery of safe food. It is also an important sector of the economy taking an active part in activities for the mild climate change and supporting energy security.
More information about the congress and the debate:
The task was financed from the Fund for the Promotion of Cereal Grains and Processed Cereals.