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Agriculture and rural development

The Food for Europe podcast

A European podcast series on food and farming.

Episode guide

23/23. Fruit & vegetables in Europe: innovation, tradition, nutrition

Latest – 24 November 2022

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Few of us let a day go by without enjoying European fruit and vegetables at our table. The EU’s production of fruit and veg is at the core of its Common Agricultural Policy: as well as feeding Europeans, it’s exported far and wide beyond the single market.

For the episode of Food for Europe, we visit a hi-tech pepper production facility at a greenhouse in the Netherlands with industry representative Wim Rodenburg, and we hear from Giulia Montanaro, who works for an apple producer association in northern Italy and tells us about the region’s centuries of cultivation of fruit prized across the world.

Nutritionist Jürgen König and Pierre Bascou from the Directorate-General for Agriculture and Rural Development at the European Commission provide their policy perspectives on this important industry.

Our programme presents examples of the sector’s success, competitiveness and commitment to quality, as well as busting some myths and misconceptions regarding production capacity, environmental impact, promotion to consumers and protection for producers.

22/23. Tackling the fertiliser crisis

9 November 2022

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Europe’s fertiliser industry is in crisis. First, it was the Covid pandemic of 2020, from which the continent’s producers struggled to relaunch operations. Then it was the war in Ukraine, which dramatically affected supplies of fertilisers and raw materials from it, Russia and Belarus.

Today, farmers are facing fourfold price increases in some instances and many are cutting back on, or cutting out altogether, fertilising their land. Unless they can access affordable stocks, they won’t be able to fertilise their land come springtime. That in turn jeopardises next year’s yields and could add to current food price inflation.

With the EU unveiling its latest response, this episode of "Food for Europe" throws the spotlight on fertilisers from all angles: farmers, producers and policy makers.

21/23. Smell the coffee: ten years of EU free trade with Central America

27 October 2022

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The EU-Central America free trade agreement has recently celebrated its first decade: ten years in which trade in both directions has doubled, and the six countries covered by the agreement – Honduras, Guatemala, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Panama – have made significant accomplishments towards their own regional economic integration.

Central America exports many high-value agricultural commodities to Europe, including speciality coffees. Food for Europe’s latest podcast looks at the results achieved under the accord and the aspirations embodied by it.

We meet a Costa Rican coffee farmer, Luís Campos, on his farm in the hills above San José; we hear from Katrien Pauwels, a Belgian coffee roaster, to whom Luís exports his coffee; Carla Caballeros from the Guatemalan chamber of agriculture, speaks about her hopes for the development of the agreement; and Luis Carazo Jimenez from the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Agriculture and Rural Development discusses how successfully Central American exporters have adapted to the quality and regulatory expectations of European consumers.

20/23. More sustainable pest control: what does the future look like?

18 October 2022

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Episode 20 in the podcast series "Food for Europe" is devoted to pest control and the new EU legislation. We talk to a Belgian farmer who’s been putting Integrated Pest Management (IPM) into action for years, to an expert in the Commission on the driving forces behind the legislation, and to a French scientist who walks us through the latest research into alternative, more environmentally friendly pesticides.

19/23. Rural Pact: acting for the diverse rural areas of Europe

28 September 2022

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Much of the responsibility for the Rural Pact’s coordination and networking lies with the European Commission, but the inputs of national, regional and local governments are vital. The Rural Pact also encourages a diverse range of stakeholders including businesses, foundations and research institutes to act for – and with – rural areas to reach the goals outlined in the long-term vision.

We hear from a rural activist and youth worker, Maria Bulnes, about the challenges she encounters in Cantabria, northern Spain; we hear the perspectives of Samuel Féret, a researcher working to sharpen the quality of data coming from rural areas for better policymaking; and Alexia Rouby, a European Commission official working to advance the Rural Pact as part of the EU’s commitment to thriving rural communities.

18/23. A Snapshot of Czech agriculture

15 September 2022

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Episode 18 of "Food for Europe" takes you to the huge food fair, Zeme Zivitelka, which celebrates Czech agri-production. How are farmers and food producers coping in this storm of uncontrollable outside events? What are the threats to its food security? And what place is there for Czech reforms in line with the EU’s environmental and ecological targets and its growing support for small scale farming?

17/23. Geographical indications: value throughout the EU food system

23 June 2022

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Geographical indications add value for farmers, producers and communities, and they provide assurance to consumers. Aceto balsamico di Modena is one such historical product benefiting from a protected geographical indication. "Food for Europe" travelled to Modena to speak to a leading producer of this treasured condiment about the opportunities – and challenges – of the geographical indications system. We also speak to the European Commission Agriculture and Rural Development directorate head of unit responsible for geographical indications about a new consolidated legislative proposal to update the way the system works, and we hear from the European Parliament’s rapporteur on the dossier about his views on the proposal.

16/23. Russia's invasion of Ukraine: is our food security under threat?

5 May 2022

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Russia's invasion of Ukraine highlighted the dependence of European agriculture on both countries. Before 24 February, the European Union imported 30% of the nitrogen fertilizers it uses for its crops from Russia. As for Ukraine, it delivered 30% of the sunflower meal and 9% of the corn intended for our livestock.

Soaring energy, fertilizer and feed prices for conventional farms and the risk of shortages: just some of the impacts the geopolitical shock in Ukraine will have on our agriculture. Is our food security threatened? What will happen to the EU's objective of transitioning towards a more sustainable European agriculture? The 16th episode of "Food for Europe" gives voice to farmers, takes stock of the situation on agricultural markets and looks at the support measures announced by the European Commission, as well as the fears of environmental activists.

15/23. Soils in danger: Europe fights back

21 April 2022

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With around 70 per cent of Europe’s soils in poor health, the European Union has launched the EU Soil Mission ‘A Soil Deal for Europe’ to reverse this deterioration. It’s the first time that soils have achieved such political importance across the EU.

The 15th episode of "Food for Europe" introduces you to various individuals working towards the common goal of soil regeneration: farmers, researchers, officials and civil society activists. From conservation agriculture to education, and from research to innovation, we learn more about the diverse approaches to soil health, and how they are adapted to the enormous diversity of geological and climatic conditions across Europe. Above all, the podcast demonstrates that when it comes to soil, it’s never too late to put things right.

14/23. EU Organic Awards

24 March 2022

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Episode 14 episode of "Food for Europe" is dedicated to the new EU Organic Awards, which will acknowledge different actors of the organic value chain and many of the issues surrounding organic production and consumption. The launch date for applications 25 March 2022

Our key speaker is Commissioner for Agriculture, Janusz Wojciechowski, who is joined by the following awards partners and leading organic producers: Barbara Altmann (Rapunzel, German organic manufacturer and supplier), Kurt Sannen (Belgian organic livestock farmer and chair of the farmers’ interest group of the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements, IFOAM), Lone Andersen (Danish organic dairy farmer and a vice-President of the agriculture umbrella body COPA-COGECA), Peter Schmidt (President of the European Economic and Social Committee’s Agriculture, Rural Development and the Environment section), and Uroš Brežan (Mayor of the small Slovenian town of Tolmin and representing the European Committee of the Regions).

13/23. Working for a more attractive and prosperous countryside in Europe

10 March 2022

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As Europe's rural population ages and diminishes in size, "Food for Europe" looks at the EU's long term vision for rural areas (LTVRA).

While agriculture is an essential part of rural life, it alone will not ensure the prosperity of rural communities. The LTVRA seeks to look beyond economics, in the first policy of its kind in the history of the EU. Its objective is to make life in small towns more sustainable, prosperous and attractive for everyone, including young people.

This type of approach has already proven itself in Italy. The 13th episode of "Food for Europe" takes you to the Emilia Romagna region to meet a young parmesan producer who is committed to showcasing the land. We also meet an architect who has returned from London to develop ecotourism in the mountain region.

12/23. France: portrait of an agriculture in transition

24 February 2022

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The French presidency of the Council of the European Union is an opportunity for "Food for Europe" to draw a portrait of French agriculture, the largest farming sector in the EU 27.

If the sector in France is aging generally, among young people entering it a “return to earth” has become highly fashionable. But with one imperative: to reconcile farming practices with the environment, and on a human scale.

The twelfth episode of our series of podcasts dedicated to the world of agriculture in Europe takes you to the Cantal department, in the heart of Auvergne, to meet the farmers of France of today and tomorrow. Low-carbon agriculture, matching of standards between trading partners, implementation of the new Common Agricultural Policy: all are the priorities of the French presidency for European agriculture. But how do they line up with the expectations of the sector on the ground?

11/23. What about a sustainable Christmas?

22 December 2021

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The Christmas edition of "Food for Europe" looks at festive foods and farm products from the perspective of sustainability, tradition and quality. We travel to Charente-Maritimes in France to meet an oyster farmer whose bivalves benefit from an EU Protected Geographical Indication. We meet Julia and Wesley, butchers in Brussels selling slow-growing, forage-feeding turkeys. We hear from master chocolatier Pierre Marcolini as he manages the mad Christmas rush. And we meet Anne-Sophie, who cultivates Christmas trees in the Ardennes.

10/23. #Foodsecurity: is Europe ready to face the next crises?

9 December 2021

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In response to the supply chain issues experienced in the early stages of the Covid-19 pandemic, EU leaders have developed a food security contingency plan to safeguard the EU’s food supply in the event of new natural or man-made crises.

The tenth episode of "Food for Europe" looks at the issues at play in creating a plan fit for all events. Like the effects of climate change, cyberattacks, earthquakes, volcanos, crop failure or nuclear accidents. We examine the lessons to be learned from what went right – and wrong − during the pandemic.

Our guests in this episode include Michael Scannell, Deputy Director General at the Commission’s Department of Agriculture & Rural Development; crisis management expert David Horobin; and Valentina Zanetti, an Italian dairy farmer and cheese producer who weathered the many storms that Covid brought.

9/23. Agriculture: the hot potato at the WTO’s ministerial conference

25 November 2021

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The ninth episode of "Food for Europe" looks at the European Union’s approach to the WTO Ministerial Conference from the perspective of trade in food and farm commodities: what’s at stake, the points of contention, and prospects for resolving the disputes hampering the WTO from functioning.

Our guests on this episode include John Clarke and Ignacio Garcia from the Commission’s DG AGRI and DG TRADE respectively, and we also hear from Jean-Marie Paugam, the deputy director-general of the WTO, a member of the new management team leading the organisation into MC12.

Our field report comes from Luxlait, a dairy cooperative in Luxembourg that exports its products to the highly competitive markets of China and Africa, and is therefore heavily dependent on a rules-based system that enables fair competition and high standards.

8/23. Digital technology, the farmer's lucky star

11 November 2021

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Our latest episode focuses on the digitalisation of agriculture in the EU. We hear from one enterprising cereal farmer in Ireland who has seen his yields grow as the time he spends on repetitive tasks in the field declines, and speak to a scientist at the European Space Agency who is developing space-based tools for agriculture. A cattle breeder in Estonia also explains how she uses digital tools to monitor the well-being of her livestock from meetings hundreds of kilometres away.

7/23. Farm to Fork: opportunities and challenges

28 October 2021

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The Farm to Fork strategy aims to transform our food system and enable Europe’s farmers to produce food in a way that enhances our natural environment. Following the second annual Farm to Fork conference in October, this episode looks at how the Farm to Fork vision is promoting new solutions to old problems at farm level, and how those solutions can sometimes be found from unlikely sources.

Our field report comes from an experimental pig farm in Wallonia, Belgium, where the waste from apples that other farmers throw away is being refined to exploit its antimicrobial properties, reducing the need to provide the animals with preventive antibiotics.

6/23. #CETA: Four years of CETA! A reason to celebrate?

7 October 2021

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This sixth episode of “"Food for Europe"” examines the ground breaking EU-Canada free trade deal, four years after its inception. We have a lengthy discussion with John Clarke, chief CETA negotiator for DG AGRI, which looks beyond the controversies of this agreement, exploring the implementation of climate commitments by both sides, sustainable farming and Europe’s food security.

We also report from the Beaujolais wine region in France, following producer Philippe Bardet during the collecting and pressing of this year’s grape harvest. He’s delighted to see exports to Canada increase in the past four years, but also concerned about protections for Europe’s celebrated geographical denominations and indications.

5/23. EU organic action plan – what's on the plate?

1 April 2021

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In our fifth episode, our experts include Nathalie Sauze-Vandevyver, Director for quality, research and innovation and outreach in the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Agriculture and Rural Development; Professor Philippe Baret of Université catholique de Louvain; and Eduardo Cuoco of the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements. They discuss the content and ambitions of the recently published organic action plan and how research and innovation can contribute to achieving the ambitions of the Green Deal.

4/23. An international food market

25 March 2021

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In this episode, our main guest is Beate Huber, President of the Research Institute of Organic Agriculture Europe (FiBL Europe), who discusses how the EU ensures that imported organic products meet the EU’s organic criteria and what challenges the EU faces when exporting its own organic products. We will also discuss the launch of the organic action plan with Nathalie Sauze-Vandeyver, Director for quality, research and innovation and outreach in the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Agriculture and Rural Development. In the French and German versions of the podcast, agricultural engineer Gwenaël du Bus also contributes to the debate.

3/23. Strengthening the EU organic label

18 March 2021

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Introduced more than 10 years ago, the EU organic logo embodies rigorous organic food production rules. The logo guarantees that at least 95% of a food product’s ingredients are organic. It also confirms that products respect the environment, soil fertility, biodiversity, animal welfare and do not contain chemicals or GMOs.

More than half of Europeans recognise the so-called ‘Euro-leaf', a green leaf flanked by 12 stars. Still, how can the EU strengthen its organic label and consumer trust in it? In the third episode of the "Food for Europe" podcast, three Members of the European Parliament, Irène Tolleret (FR), Benoît Biteau (FR) and Martin Häusling (DE), discuss the development of the EU organic logo and the challenges ahead.

2/23. Building trust in organic farming in Europe

11 March 2021

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Guests: Wolfgang Burtscher (Director-General of Agriculture and Rural Development, European Commission) and German Green MEP Martin Häusling.

Increasing demand for organic food products across Europe has made it clear that the European Union must help more farmers transition to organic farming and strengthen trust in the EU organics system among consumers. New legislation on organics is set to come into force early next year. What kind of changes and measures will it introduce to strengthen the quality of organic production in Europe?

1/23. Introducing organics

4 March 2021

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In the first episode of our new series, European Commissioner for Agriculture Janusz Wojciechowski joins us to discuss the definition of organics and trace the journey of the organic sector, from its beginnings as a niche market, to the increasingly crucial role it plays today. We also hear from organic farmers around the European Union about their experiences of and concerns for the development of the organic sector in the future.

Podcasts in English: "Food for Europe"

"Food for Europe""Food for Europe" (in English)

Podcasts in French: ‘Nourrir l’Europe’

"Food for Europe"Nourrir l'Europe (en français)

Podcasts in German: Nahrung für Europa

"Food for Europe"Nahrung für Europa (auf Deutsch)

Background

The first five episodes of "Food for Europe" take an in-depth look at organic farming in the EU. After covering the basics, we examine how the organic sector is doing today and what is expected of it in the future, while also introducing more specialised topics, such as the international dimension of European organic agriculture and the role of EU regulations in shaping the sector.

More recent episodes discuss the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement between the EU and Canada (CETA), and what this agreement means for food and farming in the EU; the recently held annual Farm to Fork conference; and the role that digitalisation is playing in making agriculture more efficient and sustainable.

The podcast is hosted by Paul Anderson and Patrick Delfosse, with each episode featuring interviews with key players in European agricultural policy. All episodes of the "Food for Europe" podcast are released in English, French and German and are available on Apple Podcasts,SpotifyGoogle Podcasts and SoundCloud.