The time is now

The European Dairy Association had its annual convention recently, and while I missed the in-person tapas lunch, I was able to provide myself with some serrano ham and enjoyed a bit of local cheddar and apple with it afterwards at my remote office. Wasn’t the same but very worthwhile viewing.

Still, it was good to view the scene in Brussels and see the various European players on stage, as it were. One of the participants, Roel Jongeneel of the Department of Social Sciences at Wageningen University in the Netherlands, provided a bit of perspective when taking a look at how agriculture was faring in the larger, global sense.

As a whole, he said, the UK is green and sustainability is in reasonable shape, but when you take a look at environmental emissions, there are problems with fertiliser use and other issues caused by agricultural land use. “The UK is representative of the EU, so we have some serious environmental issues to look at,” he noted.

So, this is true. We are still part of the EU, even if it is just geographically. As we are all discovering, the problems facing agriculture are similar, no matter where in Europe one lies and what one’s status is. Geography triumphs over all.

A further discussion at the meeting was about how policies and politics can change in a fairly short amount of time. For example, the issue of climate change wasn’t being discussed seriously a year ago despite climate activists, due to politics in various countries. It was more of a fight about whether it was real, but this has gone – events such as tornados and flooding in areas never seen before have flagged up the need for action.

However, the dairy industry has been addressing the green requirements for several years now, according to Lukáš Višek, from the cabinet of the EUY’s first executive vice president Frans Timmermans, who noted, “It was clear the issue of climate change is not something that may go away or can be wished away, or dealt with in five years’ time. The EU was the first continent and economy to put down a plan to make this happen. We want to work with partners who also have a plan. We are trying to accelerate the process in the EU because the action is extremely urgent and affects all sectors, including agriculture.”


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