Agriculture and Fisheries

European agriculture and forestry must deal with dwindling natural resources, the effects of climate change, the changing global demographic and the need to provide a sustainable, safe and secure food supply for its citizens . The goal is to provide agriculture and forestry with the required knowledge and tools to support productive, resource-efficient and resilient systems that supply food, feed and other biobased raw-materials without compromising ecosystem services, while supporting the development of incentives and policies for thriving rural livelihoods.

It addresses the pressures on natural resources, such as the decline in fossil fuels, depletion of fish stocks, as well as combating climate change through reducing greenhouse gas emissions and the adaptation of the agricultural sector accordingly. Another global challenge is animal health and the control of infectious diseases and zoonoses (infectious diseases that can be transmitted from animals to humans). Furthermore, research into plant health, and sustainable, competitive, multifunctional agriculture and rural development, including forestry, provides support for a number of EU policies.

Many challenges currently face the European fisheries and aquaculture sectors: a large number of Community fish stocks are overexploited and aquaculture production is stagnating in Europe while world production is increasing, especially in Asia. To tackle these issues, the EU is supporting research in a variety of areas to underpin better fisheries management and promote the sustainable and competitive development of aquaculture.

Land use in Europe

In 2008 the total land cover of EU 27 was around 420 million hectares with approximately 43% dedicated to agricultural production and 40% to forestry. Concerning non-food production only 5% was dedicated to industrial usage (mostly biofuel oilseed) while another 5% was potentially available as unutilised land. Economically the use of this arable and pasture land for the combined agricultural and food sector accounts for 17 million jobs (7,6% of total employment) and for 3,5% of total Gross Value Added in the EU-27. In addition world food demand is expected to increase by 70% by 2050 (FAO). A dramatic increase in global food demand will go together with a steep increase in the demand for feed, fibre, biomass, and biomaterial. This will and must trigger a supply reaction of EU agriculture, being one of the biggest suppliers to global agricultural markets. EU agriculture has a share of 18% in world food exports, worth € 76 billion. In production values, EU agriculture provides more than 40% of total OECD food production.

Next page