Promoting short and alternative food supply chains in the EU: the role of agroecology (own-initiative opinion)

EESC opinion: Promoting short and alternative food supply chains in the EU: the role of agroecology (own-initiative opinion)

Key points

  • In this opinion the EESC emphasises that short chains and agroecology represent a new prospect for agriculture in Europe.
  • Short-chain sales offer a real opportunity for small structures to build up the added value and profitability of farms. This re‑localisation brings jobs and local dynamism, with strong commitment on the part of farmers who are bringing it about. For consumers, it is a source of fresh, high-quality produce that is enriched by its history and the human relations involved, and acts to stimulate interest and educate people about food and the value of products
  • This form of production and distribution is not suitable for all farms. Neither does it replace the need for food that is not locally produced. In longer chains, European quality labels (protected geographical indication, protected designation of origin, traditional speciality guaranteed) provide identification and enhance value, making it easier for consumers to choose.
  • Against this backdrop, the EESC sees the emergence of agroecology as a new paradigm for food and farming.
  • The EESC considers that agroecology is the horizon towards which European agriculture should work: farming inherently depends on conserving natural resources for its development.
  • The EESC would like to see the agroecology project rolled out across the EU, based on a structured action plan along with various forms of leverage at local, regional and European levels. Important measures include:
    • ensuring accessible finance to put in place the necessary structures, individual or collective (CAP second pillar);
    • adjusting the application of food legislation to small farmers in a flexible way for small-scale production, as well as for requirements concerning labelling, etc.;
    • setting up or strengthening appropriate education and advice services for transformation, direct sales and agroecology;
    • encouraging exchange networks between farmers;
    • gearing research to agroecology and producers' needs in short chains;
    • at local and regional level: adapted competition rules should be introduced to make it easier to supply community catering through short, local chains.