Is food set to be a luxury of the wealthy? This is the question that resounds from reviewing the agricultural policies that Europe seeks to adopt - policies that will have major implications for New Zealand food producers exporting to Europe.
With 800 million people going to bed hungry every night and an expected rise in global population from 7.8 to 9.5 billion by 2050, food security must be at the heart of any political agenda for agriculture.
New Zealand exports over NZ$1.1 billion in horticultural products to Continental Europe, making it one of our top export markets. The 'chemical strategy' for sustainability - part of the Farm to Fork strategy of the EU Green Deal – risks the loss of tools to manage pests and diseases and disregards the importance of affordable and healthy food for human survival.
Europe will demand more regulation on all food as imported food must comply with the same environmental standards as food produced in Europe - meaning that countries must 'mirror' the EU's standards.
The Deal will affect our food exports, especially if crop protection products are banned from use on the continent due to rules preventing the manufacture and export of some substances.
The products it bans will not be able to be used for growing food destined for the continent due to a risk of 'illegal' residues. This imposes a change in the products that can be used for managing pests and diseases. It also forces exporters to produce all food the same way or face increasing complexities for exporting to the EU and other nations – as it's not always practicable, or even possible, for one farmer to produce food differently for different markets.
The Deal sets a precedent for all countries, especially those who rely on exports to the continent, to follow suit. Many, especially developing nations, will not have access to the same means or tools to meet those standards – ultimately hindering food security and economic growth for those who need it the most. Not all farmers are as heavily subsidized as their European counterparts.
Introducing more regulation isn't justified when existing rules already meet exceedingly high safety measures, far beyond any that would pose a health risk. Any change in product use must be carefully assessed for its implications, and progress must be made slowly to ensure farmers can adapt, including having access to the same plant protection products as the Europeans.
On a brighter note, the recent Free Trade Agreement with the United Kingdom is a beacon of light for our primary industries, as all tariffs are incrementally removed from key export products. This is expected to boost New Zealand's GDP by up to $1 billion.
For more information:
Tel.: +64 027 442 9965