Climate change threatens the future of farming in parts of Europe

10 September 2019

Article: 53/3607

The European Environment Agency (EEA) has published a report which investigated the key climate change problems facing agriculture in the EU and the outlook for the years ahead.

The report recommends that adapting to climate change must be made a top priority for the EU’s agriculture sector if it is to improve resilience to extreme events like droughts, heatwaves and floods. The report also states that crop and livestock production is projected to decrease and may even have to be abandoned in parts of Europe’s southern and Mediterranean regions.

Climate impacts have led to poorer harvests and higher production costs, affecting the price, quantity and the quality of farmed products in some parts of Europe. While climate change is projected to improve conditions for growing crops in parts of northern Europe, the opposite is true for crop productivity in the south.

According to projections, yields of non-irrigated crops like wheat, corn and sugar beet will decrease in southern Europe by up to 50% by 2050. This could result in a substantial drop in farm income, with large regional variations. Farmland values are also projected to decrease in parts of southern Europe by more than 80% by 2100. Trade patterns could also be affected, which will reduce agricultural income. 

While food security is not under threat in the EU, increased food demand worldwide could exert pressure on food prices in the coming decades, the report says.

The report also gives an overview of how EU policies and programmes address climate change adaptation and includes examples of feasible and successful adaptation actions. 

Source: EEA, 4 September 2019