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Opinion: Lifestyle ‘will form shape of future farms’

The European Commission has published an Outlook report for agriculture which covers the next 10 years.

Whether it reflects reality or wishful thinking, it claims green trends will drive consumer demand.

Trends identified include a greater awareness of how food is produced, climate change concerns and a new focus on animal welfare.

It says this will drive demand for organic food while health concerns will increase demand for fruit and vegetables.

The report, covering 2021-31, says farm incomes will rise by a modest 0.7% a year, and input cost increases will fall from an average 1.8% a year over the past decade to match the 0.7% increase in farm incomes.

However, fertiliser and fuel costs will continue to rise at 2.7% a year.

Fertiliser costs are forecast to rise at 2.7% per annum.

The report says farm labour will fall because of bigger farms and more adoption of agritech and claims that, because of its role as a carbon sink, forestry will grow and exceed traditional agricultural land by 2031.

For dairy, the report says the health-driven loss of markets in Europe should be made up for by increased export demand as Asian countries in particular continue to westernise diets in response to a growing middle class with increased spending power.

The Outlook report says there will be decline in cereal production in favour of protein crops, as the EU seeks to reduce its reliance in imported soya.

The decline in cereal production and demand is forecast at around 3% by 2031 while protein crops could increase by 20% from a low base, thanks in part to higher yields.

About the Author: Richard Wright is a journalist for The Courier


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