(Bloomberg) — U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue warned that the European Union’s “Farm to Fork” environmental initiative will stoke trade tensions as European producers face higher costs and seek protectionist measures.
Perdue said in a conference call Tuesday with European and U.S. reporters that world food prices would double if the initiative were followed globally. He said that the estimate was based on conclusions from U.S. Department of Agriculture economists he spoke to.
The EU is seeking to reduce the environmental footprint of its farming and food production industry as part of its ambitious Green Deal agenda to make the bloc climate-neutral by the middle of the century.
The “Farm to Fork” strategy maps out the ways for the region to halve the use of pesticides and antibiotics, boost organic farming, promote plant-based proteins and make every link of the food system more sustainable.
It’s “extremely problematic” to agriculture trade to impose Farm to Fork, characterizing it as relying on “subjective” standards, Perdue said. While he doesn’t think Farm to Fork is in itself protectionist, Perdue said it will inevitably lead to protectionist policies.
Greening agriculture is one of the biggest challenges in the fight against climate change, with food systems responsible for as much as 30% of global greenhouse-gas emissions.
While environmental lobbies have urged a bolder approach by the commission to tackle climate change, the EU strategy has already sparked concerns among farmers and food producers who fear that stricter requirements will undermine their businesses at the time of a recession.
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