Latest from EU Member States

Diversification in Rural Ireland – event report

With many farms specialising, mixed farming in Ireland is now at only 3%. This compares to an EU average of 21%. Such specialisation has made Ireland vulnerable to global events as it relies heavily on feed and fertilizer imports for an export driven agri-food sector. Meanwhile, there has been a deterioration of ecosystems and a failure to reach climate targets. So what level of agri-food diversification is possible – and desirable – in Ireland? […]

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All Hot Air? An Organic Action Plan without Farm to Fork Targets

The European Parliament voted this month to endorse the EU Action Plan for Organic Agriculture. The adopted action plan garnered 611 votes to 14, with five abstentions. What is missing however is any specific mention of the Farm to Fork target of shifting 25% of agriculture to organic. So, where’s the action in this action plan? Or is it all just hot air? Ashely Parsons has more.  […]

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The Influence of EU Policies in National Rural Digitalisation

Digitalisation is progressing in rural areas around Europe in different ways. There are a number of reasons for variability in style and substance, as María Alonso-Roldán and Mar Delgado-Serrano of the DESIRA project show. The pair have engaged with experts in 15 countries. Here’s what they’ve found.  […]

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Just Transition in Ireland – Next Steps

What’s really involved in a genuinely just transition? Here we summarise the perspectives of wide range of actors from agriculture, energy, forestry and rural areas gathered to exchange views on the meaning and practical application of a just transition in a farming, food and rural context in Ireland. Event held in the WeCreate Centre in Cloughjordan ecovillage. With Matteo Metta and Oliver Moore. […]

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France | Why Did Le Pen Reap Record Numbers of Rural Votes?

Europe let out a sigh of relief on Sunday night with the announcement of Emmanuel Macron’s victory over far-right candidate Marine Le Pen for the French Presidency. But since her previous bid in 2017, Le Pen’s popularity has increased steadily, especially in rural France. Does her growing appeal point to a rejection of Macron’s techno-solutionism and the failures of his first term? What does it tell us about rural attitudes to Europe? Analysis by Ashley Parsons. […]

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Rural Ireland on the Move – new report on Just Transition and Diversification launched.

This week ARC2020 and partner organisations release a report, and hold two events, on the topics of Just Transition and Diversification in Ireland. Targets to reduce emissions come alongside pressure for agriculture to improve its impact on biodiversity, water and air quality. Meanwhile rising feed, fertilizer and other input costs, and a sequence of recent crises – brexit, covid, and now the tragic war in Ukraine – compound the pressure. So what next for rural Ireland? […]

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West Balkans – Accession, Agriculture and a Greener Agenda

War in Ukraine has sharpened the EU’s focus on food security, farm and trade policies and the EU Green Deal. This war has also spotlighted progressive engagement with the Western Balkans, a region with its own simmering political tensions not unrelated to the wider conflict. Agricultural ministers meet this week to engage, to connect to EU institutions, but also to help lead on a greener farming agenda for Europe. Hannes Lorenzen, who participated in the meeting, has more. […]

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Hungary | Electoral Win for Orbán – can he keep up pro-farmer façade?

This weekend Hungarians voted Viktor Orbán’s FIDESZ party into a fourth consecutive term in government. What is the secret to Orbán’s continued popularity with rural voters, when he has been breaking promises to them for more than a decade? How will this new parliamentary majority for FIDESZ affect agriculture, farmers and rural areas in the midst of global political and economic turmoil? Analysis by Péter József Bori. […]

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A Leaked Pesticide Regulation and a Political Merry Go Round

The AGRIFISH Council delayed tabling the legislation meant to reform plant protection products (SUR) on March 23 until ‘before summer,’ to the dismay of campaigners. ARC has a leaked version of the revised proposal. So what’s in it? And what’s next in the political wrangling around pesticides in the EU institutions – are EU member states now playing a game of pass the pesticides parcel?    […]

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 EU Institutions – Productivity Now, Environment Maybe Later

With war in Ukraine, the EU institutions made a concerted effort to shore up its highly exposed agri-industrial food system this week. Emergency money and ecologically protected lands are to be used for food security – as expressed through animal feed and mineral fertilizer supply. Along the way, delays and derailings to greener transition have occurred in pesticides regulation, in environmental elements of CAP, and more. So is the EU Green Deal becoming pie in the sky? Oliver Moore and Ashley Parsons report.   […]

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Ukraine | Wheat, War and History

The breadbasket of Europe, Ukraine became famous for Turkey Red Wheat, a variety with good milling and baking qualities that does well in harsh winters. But Ukrainian farmers not only grew the grain that fed so many in Europe, the seeds became the life insurance of those fleeing the Russian empire in the 19th century. And that’s how Turkey Red Wheat came to the US where it is still grown today. […]

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Food Security Communication – some key aspects

A key EU Commission Food Security Communication  has been circulating, which outlines some emergency measures the EU Commission proposes to in part deal with the food crises stemming from the war in Ukraine. The document, entitled “Safeguarding food security and reinforcing the resilience of food systems” is due for formal release tomorrow (Wednesday 23rd). So what’s in it?  […]

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A Food, Feed and Fertilizer Crises | Ukraine

The agri-food system is very exposed  – and was even before the war in Ukraine and its implications. Nitrogen fertilizer has been the bedrock of how farming happens, and its availability has led to a very specific type of food production to flourish. Decisions must be made – about feeding people, about feeding pigs, about how a grass-based system can really function sustainably. Op-Ed from Stuart Meikle.   […]