TALLINN - One of the concerns in sustainable agriculture is carbon capture, which currently still raises a number of unanswered questions, according to Estonian Minister of Rural Affairs Urmas Kruuse.
The agenda for the EU Agriculture and Fisheries Council (AGRIFISH) meeting on Monday includes the European Commission's communication on sustainable carbon cycles, which is expected to be followed by an active discussion and exchange of views, spokespeople for the Ministry of Rural Affairs said.
"We cannot ignore the ambitious climate targets for increasing carbon sequestration. These issues need to be addressed, but it is important that all proposed activities and methodologies take into account the local conditions and baselines in member states. Businesses' activities geared at ensuring sustainable carbon cycles should definitely be taken into consideration," Kruuse stressed, adding that that a farmer's primary task is to produce food.
"Even though carbon farming offers farmers attractive opportunities to diversify their business model and income, it is important to prevent a situation where it could start competing with food production in terms of land use," the minister said.
The first conclusions on the initiative on sustainable carbon cycles are expected by March. By the end of the year, the European Commission should present a proposal for a legal framework for EU carbon capture certification. In addition, the Commission intends to convene a thematic expert group to help develop the necessary methodologies and business models for the deployment of carbon farming and other carbon capture measures.
At the AGRIFISH meeting on Monday, the ministers will be given an overview of the current situation on EU agricultural markets and trade-related agricultural issues.
"In recent months, positive developments have been observed in most sectors, both in the form of rising prices and stabilization, but high input prices continue to have a negative impact on farmers' incomes," Kruuse said, commenting on the situation in agricultural markets.
The European Union is the world's largest exporter of agricultural products and the world's third largest importer. The EU's agri-food sector is recovering from the coronavirus crisis thanks to the gradual reopening of catering services and the reduction of restrictions on the movement of people. From January to September 2021, exports increased by 8 percent compared to the same period in the preceding year, while imports increased by 3.5 percent.
Kruuse will be accompanied at the AGRIFISH meeting in Brussels by Marko Gorban, deputy secretary general for agricultural and rural development policy at the Ministry of Rural Affairs.