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25 July 2024

News

22.05.2024

Ukrainian Agriculture and the European Green Deal

Ukrainian Agribusiness Club together with UCABevent agency organized an online  discussion “Ukrainian Agriculture and the European Green Deal” on the 21th of May during which speakers discussed how the Ukrainian agricultural sector, alongside European farmers and producers, handles the challenges of the impact of the European Green Deal on agriculture.

Key speakers:

  • Alex Lissitsa, President of UCAB;
  • Nazar Bobitski, Head of the UCAB EU office;
  • Taras Vysotskyi, Acting Minister of Agrarian Policy and Food of Ukraine;
  • Anja Klatt, senior manager public and government affairs, crop protection, BASF;
  • Cezar Gheorghe, Founder, AGRIColumn, Romania;
  • Marta Trofimova, head of sustainability, Kernel;
  • Thomas Brunner, director, AgroPlus 2006 (Ukraine).

 

The European Green Deal remains one of the most consequential EU policies with impact transcending far beyond EU borders. Launched in 2019, it was the EU signature climate policy initiative, aiming to reshape the regulatory landscape for almost all sectors of Europe’s economy, and agriculture was not an exception. But today, the European farmers protest against what they believe is an unfair burden, as they suffer from competing agrifood imports from countries not respecting their climate responsibilities.

“Now Europe is finding itself in a very fiery debate, whether they should reassess the approach to climate policies, at least in agriculture. And things are very likely to change after the European elections and after the new European Сommission. At the same time, the Ukrainian agriculture sector is also coping with the same climatic challenges, and Ukrainian farmers are adapting to these new standards required by European integration”, – said Nazar Bobitski, Head of the UCAB EU office.

When discussing European green policy, it is first of all worth mentioning the topic of challenges with the use of plant protection products. As highlighted by Anja Klatt, senior manager public and government affairs, crop protection, BASF, the banning of neonicotinoids and the reduction in the number of authorized pesticides as examples of policies that have negatively impacted yields and farm income. These regulations, while well-intentioned, are unrealistic and have led to a decrease in available tools for farmers to protect their crops.

"At the same time, protests by farmers led to adjustments in EU policies towards more realistic and farmer-friendly measures. Last week, the EU paved the way for many simplification measures under the Common Agriculture Policy under 2027. Also European Commission withdrew the proposal for the sustainable use of pesticide regulation, which aimed to reduce pesticide use by 50% and ban certain protection products in sensitive areas. So it means that the protest of the farmers made it clear that some of the obligations that were intended by the European Green Deal have to be changed", – noted Anja Klatt.

Romanian agribusiness expert Cezar Gheorghe, Founder of AGRIColumn, noted that pesticide use varies widely between EU countries, so a one-size-fits-all approach is inappropriate, it is important that the European Union assess each country individually when imposing limits on pesticides: "Romania uses pesticides at a maximum of 50% compared to Western European countries. We comply with all the rules and don't foresee any decrease in yields for our main crops. The EU's current policies, particularly under the Green Deal, are overly stringent and risk demonizing farmers. To convey the opinion of farmers we need to have  well-prepared representatives in Brussels to explain the country-specific circumstances regarding pesticide usage".

According to Alex Lissitsa, Founder and President of UCAB, in order to be competitive in the EU market, Ukraine's agricultural sector must adapt to European standards: “This includes adhering to the European Green Deal and ESG regulations. However there's a shared concern among European and Ukrainian farmers regarding balancing climate goals with maintaining productivity. Overcoming these challenges requires working together and fostering innovation to develop effective agricultural policies".

A large Ukrainian agricultural enterprise Kernel is already implementing sustainability practices that align with potential future EU requirements, even though not yet mandatory. Kernel's sustainability head Marta Trofimova explained they test practices on small areas first to ensure they are effective, efficient, and maintain yields. Practices like reduced tillage not only cut emissions but also improve long-term soil health and productivity.

“The agriculture sector is the second largest contributor to GHG emissions after the energy and industry. It's also very inherently susceptible to climate change, but at the same time, it has a very high potential to minimize the impact and has a very high potential to contribute to carbonization and to all carbon development. And with those potentials with those possibilities comes the additional opportunities that both Ukrainian farmers and companies and European companies can really benefit from”, – argues Marta Trofimova.

Another successful example of sustainable development is the innovative approach to antibiotic-free farming in pig production of the Ukrainian company AgroPlus 2006. For the past 13 years, less than 2% of all pigs produced on 1,200-hectare farm and 400-500 mother-cell pig farming businesses have received antibiotics. This level of antibiotic use is significantly lower than the European and Swiss standards, where antibiotic use in pig farming is much higher. Thomas Brunner, director of AgroPlus 2006, attributes this to their closed production cycle system, where piglets are not bought from multiple farms, which often requires antibiotics to harmonize the herd. He argues that this approach demonstrates that farmers can achieve very low antibiotic use, which is a groundbreaking and innovative concept. Brunner hopes that focusing on overall antibiotic use as a key performance indicator, rather than specific welfare issues, will encourage more farmers to adopt similar practices.

Taras Vysotskyi, Acting Minister of Agrarian Policy and Food of Ukraine, concluded that Ukrainian agricultural producers are actively involved in the implementation of the requirements of the European Green Deal for environmental conservation, but agricultural producers need time to implement its requirements: “Today, Ukrainian farmers are solving huge problems related to climate change and environmental protection. In particular, the Partial Credit Guarantee Fund in Agriculture, which provides guarantees for small farmers, has clear requirements for the standards of the environmental component of the activities of such farms. Also, as a result of the full-scale invasion, a significant part of Ukraine’s agricultural land is contaminated. However, Ukrainian farmers are already preparing to grow crops that absorb not only heavy metals, but greenhouse gasses. This will also contribute to achieving the global goals of the European Green Deal”.




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  • Zeppelin
  • Amazone
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  •  Agricom Group
  • horsch
  • uahk
  • Сygnet
  • Syngenta
  • Agco
  • Agroregion
  • Eridon
  • MHP
  • Maschionet
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  • DuPont Pioneer
  • Agroscop
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  • NCH Advisors
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