The EU recently closed a call for evidence on the topic of applying EU health and environmental standards to imports of agricultural and food products. The final report will assess the reasoning and legality of subjecting all imported agricultural and agri-food products to EU health and environmental standards, such as animal welfare standards and production methods. The report will also explore how the EU can more consistently apply health and environmental standards while conforming to World Trade Organization (WTO) guidelines.
The EU is considering applying its health and environmental standards to all imports in an effort to increase the environmental sustainability of its food systems, in line with the EU Green Deal’s Farm to Fork Strategy. However, the possibility of the EU applying its environmental and health standards to all agri-food and agricultural imports could restrict the supply chain and inflate costs. Global interest groups, such as the U.S. Meat Export Federation, have submitted their concerns about the potential consequences.
USMEF, a nonprofit organization that represents individuals who work in the meat production and supply chain, expressed that while it supports the goal of global food sustainability, it strongly disagrees that the EU’s proposed solution will contribute to that goal. UMSEF relayed its skepticism of whether the move would be WTO-compliant, described the possible negative impacts the move would have on the global food supply chain and food costs, and asserted the sufficiency of U.S. regulations on farmed animal welfare and food sustainability.
The final EU report is meant to inform future agricultural and food trade policy as it relates to food safety and sustainability; the report itself will not have any immediate impact on legislation. The European Commission adoption of the report is planned for the second quarter of 2022.