European agricultural production will decrease by 56.13 million tonnes by 2030…
The EU-27 has 156.7 million hectares devoted to agriculture. In 2019, nearly 12.5 million hectares, i.e. about 8% of the total area, were devoted to organic farming. However, the goal of the “From Farm to Table” European strategy is that 25% of the agricultural area, i.e. 39.2 million hectares, be devoted to organic production by 2030. This means they need to increase the hectares devoted to this production by 26.7 million hectares over the area of 2019.
According to an analysis by Mario Carvalho, a professor at the University of Evora and Nuno Marques, a Portuguese farmer, converting 25% of the EU-27’s agricultural area to organic production will decrease total production by 56.13 million tonnes, as the 26.7 million hectares that will be converted to organic farming will have a 60% reduction in productivity.
In the specific case of Portugal, it will translate into a significant increase in imports and consequently, of the food’s carbon footprint.
The reduction in the EU-27’s agricultural production, the increase in world population and consequently, in demand, will shift production to countries that aren’t subjected to the regulations of the EU-27. It will likely result in a reduction in food security and an increase in the carbon footprint of the food consumed. It could also increase pressure on other areas of the planet that already have serious desertification problems.
In addition, organic product prices are twice as expensive as the prices of conventional products. Thus, there could be a worldwide increase in the prices of agricultural products.
What impact has organic farming had on the consumption of pesticides and fertilizers?
According to Eurostat data, the risk of pesticide use in the EU-27 fell by 17% between 2011 and 2018. Numerous active substances that are harmful to the environment were banned, and producers are using new pesticides that require very low doses.
Even though organic farming increased to 13 million hectares (8% of the agricultural area), and despite the use of low-dose pesticides, pesticide consumption between 2011 and 2018 remained stable at 360,000 tonnes. Fertilizer consumption between 2008 and 2018 remained stable at 11.3 million tons.
In conclusion, the consumption of pesticides and fertilizers – which should have decreased due to their technological evolution and to the increase in the area devoted to organic agriculture- remains constant.