Researchers at Wageningen University & Research (WUR) have calculated that the European Commissions ‘Green Deal’ plan to halve pesticide usage and reduce fertiliser will probably lead to declining yields of agricultural crops. They add that, ‘Lower production leads to price increases, less European exports and more imports of agricultural products from outside Europe.’
In the study, the researchers focused on the impact of the Farm2Fork (F2F) and Biodiversity (BD) strategies of the Green Deal. They looked at both annual crops (wheat, rape seed, maize, sugar beet, hops and tomatoes) and perennial crops (apples, olives, grapes and citrus).
According to Johan Bremmer, researcher at Wageningen University & Research, the study shows that implementation of the F2F and BD strategies has a negative impact on crop yields and agricultural production. “Scenario 4 analyses a cumulative impact of several farm to fork targets,” he said. “Think of reduction in pesticide use and prevention of nutrient loss. This scenario shows an average production decline of between 10 and 20 percent. Some crops suffer more than others. Production volume can decline up to 30%, but there are also crops that hardly suffer at all as a result of the F2F strategy.
“Furthermore, reduction in the use of pesticides and fertilizers can result in quality problems. For example, reduction of nutrient and pesticide use can result in lower yield per ha of apples, reduced fruit sizes and affected peels. Fruit of lower quality is less valued by consumers. Therefore, if there is no change on the demand side, this means that we must expect more scarcity – and therefore price increases. It also has negative consequences for the European trade balance, as exports fall, and imports rise.”
The study also makes clear that less production in the EU will require extra farmland outside the EU.