What's the (Green) Deal for farmers in the EU?

In the coming years, farmers in the European Union will increasingly have to deal with regulations to make agriculture more climate and environmentally friendly. The accumulation of legislation and action plans arising from the Green Deal and affiliated strategies like the Farm to Fork Strategy, the Biodiversity Strategy for 2030, and the Fit for 55 package, is comprehensive and could have a major impact on European agriculture.

The legislation on greenhouse gases, water quality, pesticide use, and biodiversity and nature is expected to have the largest impact on agriculture due to the strict targets and deadlines, and the fact that the EU is falling short of its targets. Member states will have to implement far-reaching measures to comply. Farmers in all agricultural sectors will have to adapt their practices to meet the requirements of European legislation.

As targets are high and a broad range of themes are covered, the Green Deal and its affiliated strategies can seem a bit overwhelming. On the other hand, these initiatives ensure a level playing field in Europe and create market opportunities for innovative techniques, products, and practices. Because of these pros and cons, the Green Deal has become a point of discussion in the political debate in the run-up to the European elections in 2024.

The upcoming elections are a milestone, especially for legislative proposals of the European Commission that are in the early phases of discussion. Will the parliament and council of the European Union agree with the commission’s proposals and adopt legislation before the elections or not? Not dependant on the elections in 2024 is the closest “hard” deadline. This concerns the Water Frame Directive, which aims to achieve “good” status by 2027 for all bodies of surface water and groundwater in Europe. Looking at where things stand, much remains to be done. For farmers, this could mean stepping up their efforts to prevent and reduce water pollution from nitrates and plant protection products (pesticides).

Where to go from here