Agriculture and Food System
For a food system in which both farmers and future generations can live happily in a sustainable way, some changes are needed.
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Some abbreviations are used in this chapter. You can find explanations of all abbreviations in the glossary.
Our vision for the food system is to supply all people living in Switzerland with healthy food meeting their demands for nutrients and well-being in a sustainable way. The latter must allow the following generations to produce enough food for them with the same intensity. It is a food system in which producers get recognition for their important work, have a fulfilling job with a good income. Consumers have access to food but also education about nutrition, the way food is produced and processed and best also about how it is handled and experienced in a cultural context.
A sustainable and healthy diet is the focus of all policy measures proposed.
These changes are part of a policy framework which supports climate friendly production practices, shifts subsidies in the direction of a plant-based diet and allows us to get away from the dependence on highly polluting methods. Its aim is to enable a sustainable food production considering the evident complexity of the issue and the relations and interactions between agriculture, the environment, society and the economy. It is essential that the issues are addressed in all the proposed fields at the same time. If we omit one of these points, or concentrate only on certain, we run the risk that it can negatively compensate all the efforts in the other fields.
A sustainable diet consists of a much larger share of plant-based products, compared to today’s consumption patterns. Animal products in the diet will be reduced to one third compared to the present situation. Luxury and unhealthy food items like alcohol, sweets, chocolate, cocoa will have a much lower share in our diet and thus reduce fatalities due to illness caused by malnutrition.
Switzerland will further use grasslands for animal production. Ruminant production in Switzerland will be regulated by the amount of grassland available and fodder imports or domestic fodder production will be cut to zero. Greenhouses in Switzerland are only heated by waste energy from industrial processes or if really needed by renewable local energy.
Agricultural practice will follow guidelines for an optimized production from an environmental point of view while considering global food security and social justice and not to optimize profit rates.
The ecosystem boundaries shall be at the basis of decision-making with technical, social and economic aspects adjusted accordingly. The integration and common long-term vision of a sustainable food system must be shared by all stakeholders namely farmers, the processing industry, retailers, consumers and politicians. Future development shall be characterized by a common understanding and a common will for sustainable solutions.
Greenhouse Gas Inventory of Swiss Agriculture
According to the national greenhouse gas (GHG) inventory, agriculture causes approximately 15 % of all Swiss GHG emissions. In the year 2017, the agriculture sector as defined by the 2006 IPCC Guidelines for national GHG inventories encompasses an amount of 6.08 Mt CO2 eq. (FOEN 2019). Major emission sources are methane emissions (CH4) from enteric fermentation (3.29 Mt CO2 eq.) and emissions of nitrous oxide (N2O) from agricultural soils (1.58 Mt CO2 eq.). Both these gases are also released during storage of livestock manure (0.75 and 0.41 Mt CO2 eq. respectively). Less important are emissions of CO2 from application of lime and urea (0.05 Mt CO2 eq). In addition to these sources, other emissions are related to agricultural production that are assigned to other sectors in the greenhouse gas inventory. CO2 emissions from the combustion of fossil fuels in agricultural machinery and buildings amount to 0.63 Mt CO2 eq. Furthermore, carbon stock changes of agricultural soils which are reported in the “Land Use, Land-Use Change and Forestry” (LULUCF) sector are also relevant. Whereas organic soils are a major source of CO2 (0.59 Mt CO2 eq.) It is assumed that carbon stocks in mineral soils are more or less balanced (see chapter Negative Emissions). Finally, a small amount of GHGs is also emitted during incineration of agricultural waste, from losses in agricultural biogas plants and during field composting (0.04 Mt CO2 eq.).
Furthermore, emissions of around 0.81 Mt CO2 eq. are incurred during the production of agricultural inputs abroad, in particular mineral fertilizers and animal feed. These emissions are not accounted for in the Swiss GHG inventory but allocated to the countries of origin in accordance with the international guidelines in climate reporting (territorial principle).
This sectoral perspective of emission inventories is limited and must be extended when assessing GHG emissions of the whole food sector in an integral way. Adopting a consumption perspective all emissions related to food processing and transport as well as emissions related to food imports and export must be considered. Under this perspective, it is apparent that more than half of all GHG emissions related to food consumption in Switzerland are originating from abroad (Bretscher et al. 2014). Nutrition turns out to be one of the most relevant consumption categories ranking third after “mobility” and “housing and energy” (Jungbluth et al. 2011; BFS 2018).
According to pilot estimates by the Swiss Federal Office for Statistics, 65 % of the GHG-footprint of Switzerland is generated by imports (including Food & Non-Food). The emissions of imported food products (including non-alcoholic and alcoholic beverages and tobacco) amounts to about 12 million tons of CO2 equivalents (FSO 2020a). In addition to production-related emissions, imported food has significantly higher emissions if transported by plane or if associated with deforestation. About 80% of deforestation it is caused by agriculture, for example to produce palm oil, meat and soy (animal feed for meat and milk production) (Kissinger, Herold, and De Sy 2012). Three products which are also of large importance in the Swiss food system.
GHG Emissions According to Different Diets
From a food system point of view, the GHG emissions coming from the diet are substantial. Especially over consumption of certain foods are increasing GHG emissions significantly. Mostly meat products, first and foremost meat from ruminants, are contributing very much to the overall GHG emissions (see Figure 6‑2).
Bretscher et al. (2018) estimate that animal husbandry is responsible for approximately 85% of all agricultural greenhouse gas emissions in Switzerland, 75% alone by cattle livestock. CH4 emissions from enteric fermentation of ruminants is by far the most important single emission source followed by emissions from feed production (mainly N2O emissions from manure fertilizers). The outstanding relevance of livestock is also apparent when assessing the GHG footprint of food consumption in Switzerland. More than 80% of the emissions related to food consumption in Switzerland are due to the production of livestock-based food items (D. Bretscher, Lansche, and Felder 2015).
According to Beretta and Hellweg (2019), in Switzerland, each year about 2.8 million tonnes of avoidable food loss (food intentionally produced for human consumption which never gets consumed) is occurring across all stages of the Swiss food chain. This equals about 330 kg of avoidable food waste per person and year and about 37% of all agricultural goods produced for consumption in Switzerland (inland and abroad). The climate impact of avoidable food waste equals about 24% of the GHG emissions produced by the entire Swiss food system. Dividing the climatic impact into the main stages of the food chain, about 11% can be attributed to losses occurring at the stage of agricultural production, 30% to industrial food processing, 7% to food retailers, 12% to gastronomy and 40% to the stage of private households. The largest climate impact is caused due to losses of bread and bakery products, cheese, beef and fresh vegetables.
International Agricultural Trade
Considering not only the Swiss GHG emissions within Switzerland but also worldwide, global agricultural businesses with their headquarters in Switzerland can be crucial.
Switzerland is a hub for international commodity trade. Every year billions of tons of both agricultural and non-agricultural commodities are traded through Switzerland without ever crossing the Swiss border. Recent estimates indicate that Swiss-based companies buy and sell roughly 50% of globally traded grain, 40% of sugar, 30% of cocoa, at least 30% of coffee and at least 25% of cotton (Braunschweig, Kohli, and Lan 2019). Many of these companies have moved beyond the mere trading of agricultural commodities though and tend to exert increasing influence on many stages of the agricultural value chain nowadays. This increasingly includes, but is not limited to, direct involvement of Swiss agricultural traders in the production of agricultural commodities outside Switzerland. Mergers and acquisition have allowed few giant multinational trading companies, among which many are Swiss-based, to rapidly expand their activities and consolidate their power at the expense of farmers and agricultural workers in commodity-producing countries (Braunschweig, Kohli, and Lan 2019).
The recent surge in commodity trading has generated high tax revenues for the Swiss state. The environmental impacts of the extraction, production and transport of all commodities traded by Swiss companies, on the other hand, have been found to be 19 times larger than the ones caused by total Swiss consumption (Jungbluth and Meili 2018). (The study by Jungbluth and Meili (2018) only partly covers the emissions caused by the transport and storage processes that are associated with trade.) Similarly, the agricultural trading sector in Switzerland remains extremely opaque. The lack of transparency is the corollary of the ongoing efforts by the Swiss government to grant trading companies a very discrete and business-friendly environment. Under these lax transparency regulations, the latter have no pressure to disclose concise data on their trading activities and the potential social and environmental repercussions they entail.
The implications of Switzerland´s dominant position in the global agricultural commodity market are two-fold. Firstly, Swiss trading companies´ decisions about which products they buy and sell can make a considerable contribution to the goal of cutting down emissions produced by the global agricultural sector. Secondly, and closely related to the first aspect, Swiss trading companies have both the opportunity and thus the responsibility to shape international commodity trade sustainably. Swiss companies need to acknowledge their responsibility for the negative side effects of their trading activities and try to mitigate these accordingly.
Global Food Security and Climate Change
According to the FAO (2003), food security exists when all people, at all times, have physical, social and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life. The global food system and thereby food security is under pressure from non-climate stressors (e.g., population and income growth, demand for animal-sourced products) and from climate change. These stressors impact all aspects of food security, namely food availability, access, utilisation and stability (Mbow et al. 2019b). Climate change already affects global food security through increased temperatures, changing precipitation patterns as well as the occurrence of extreme climatic events (e.g., droughts and heat events). Food security will be increasingly affected by the projected changes in climate. Until the year 2050, a 1-29% increase in the global cereal price is expected, severely increasing the risk of hunger for low-income consumers (Mbow et al. 2019a). Agricultural production and thereby food availability will further be affected by altered distribution of pests and diseases and the negative impacts of more frequent and severe extreme climate events (Mbow et al. 2019a).
Fossil fuels are infamous for their considerable contribution to global warming. This is mainly due to the emissions that are caused when extracting, transporting and consuming (=combusting) oil, natural gas and coal. In light of these negative environmental impacts of fossil fuels, as well as the oil price spikes in 2008 and 2011, agrofuels have been praised as a green, affordable alternative that help mitigate climate change. Agrofuels refer to the production of ethanol, methanol, hydrogen and diesel from vegetable biomass (but excluding biogas or energy produced e.g. with crop residues or compost on smaller scales). Over the past years, different methods of agrofuel generation have been employed: The first generation of agrofuels describes agrofuel that is generated from feedstocks. i.e. annual and perennial edible crops that are cultivated to generate diesel and ethanol. Agrofuel feedstocks encompass a variety of common crops, including maize (corn), sweet potato, sugar cane, palm oil and oil seeds. The second and third generation use lignocellulosic biomass and microalgae to produce agrofuel. The overwhelming majority of agrofuels used today is still generated from the cultivation and processing of edible crops though (Correa et al. 2017).
A strict set of import rules have prevented agrofuels to obtain a noteworthy market share in Switzerland for a long time. For example, the revised 2016 version of the Mineral Oil Tax Law Imports states that only those imported agrofuels may be exempted from the mineral oil tax that meet stringent ecological and social criteria. Imports of agrofuels have increased notably during the past decade though. This upsurge has been largely driven by legal amendments in 2014 which allow importers of fossil fuels to use agrofuels to compensate partly for emissions generated by the combustion of fossil fuels in Switzerland´s domestic traffic. Current figures by the Federal Customs Administration indicate that roughly one quarter of fuels sold in Switzerland contain biocomponents. While agrofuels play an ever-more important role in Switzerland, there is extremely scarce knowledge about the specific agricultural raw commodities from which the agrofuels used in Switzerland are made, under which conditions these raw commodities are produced and which Swiss-based companies participate in the trade of agrofuels. The same is true for the production of biocomponents which are mixed with conventional fuel before being sold on Swiss markets. This blatant lack of transparency prevents a thorough assessment of Swiss-consumed agrofuels´ environmental and social sustainability.
In spite of widespread initial euphoria concerning the alleged superiority of agrofuels vis-à-vis fossil fuels scholars and other experts have voiced skepticism as with regard to agrofuels´ “renewability and cleanliness” for different reasons (Ji and Long 2016):
Firstly, as indicated above, the huge amounts of crops cultivated to produce agrofuel could equally be used for human consumption. The upsurge in the international demand for agrofuel production has entailed violent incidents of land grabbing in Africa, Latin America, Eastern Europe and Asia (GRAIN 2015), squeezed the area that contributes to human food supply and obviously entailed an increase in prices for different food crops, including oilseeds (Correa et al. 2017; Rosegrant et al. 2008; Ji and Long 2016). Ultimately, agrofuels thus have strong potential to deplete the income of millions of households due to land grabbing and destroy large areas of tropical forests, pastures and meadows. Secondly, depending on the circumstances such as climate, soil fertility and the type of agrofuel feedstock cultivated, the amount non-renewable energy that is needed in the agrofuel production and transport process surpasses the quantity of energy agrofuel provides (Ji and Long 2016). Thirdly, the widely spread first generation agrofuels need large quantities of pesticides and fertilizers which all pose an immediate threat to vertebrates populations, species richness and biodiversity as a whole (Correa et al. 2017; Sreevani 2019). This threat is exacerbated by the fact that many agrofuel feedstock plantations are monoculture plantations. Fourthly, agrofuel feedstocks require huge amounts of water (FAO 2008; Jewitt and Kunz 2011; Ji and Long 2016). Finally, there is evidence that the increased competition between agrofuels and fossil fuels decreases the prices for the latter (=positive rebound effect) (Allaire and Brown 2015; Ji and Long 2016). Low fossil fuel prices, however, spur economic activity which in turn increases pollution levels.
The detrimental environmental and social consequences of agrofuel production sketched above threaten to be amplified by the plans to use agrofuels in aviation. Aviation is responsible for roughly 2% of the planet´s annual CO2 emissions. This figure is likely to increase in the future as experts anticipate annual passenger figures to soar until 2050 (Terrenoire et al. 2019). The excessive operation of airplanes thus represents a major obstacle to climate change mitigation. Comparable to the situation in the automobile sector, agrofuels have been identified as an viable alternative for conventional fossil fuels in terms of their environmental sustainability (Hari, Yaakob, and Binitha 2015). Many governments around the world share this positive view and provide considerable financial means to research and testing programs that shall help agrofuels achieve aviation market maturity (Cremonez et al. 2015; O’Connell, Kousoulidou, and Lonza 2019). The Swiss government has equally embraced sustainably produced agrofuels in aviation as a potential element of a coherent climate change mitigation strategy. At the same time, it has not outlined the extent to which it will actively promote agrofuels in the aviation sector in the future. Any decision in this regard will arguably depend on the content of Switzerland´s revised CO2 Act (UVEK 2019). In the meantime, the managers of Zurich-international airport have celebrated the first airplane ever having been filled up with a blend of conventional fuel and agrofuel in Zurich in January this year (Zürich 2020). This clearly indicates that the operation of airplanes on agrofuels starts becoming reality in Switzerland.
The proponents of agrofuels in the aviation industry tend to ignore or talk down the detrimental environmental and social consequences the conversion to agrofuels in the aviation sector would entail in the countries of production. The aviation industry would require incredible amounts of agrofuels every day to refuel only a small proportion of the thousands airplanes which are used for transport of goods and people nowadays. Large-scale production of agrofuels that satisfy this huge demand would accelerate deforestation, biodiversity loss, water depletion and pollution and land grabbing, and undermine food security in producing countries (Hari, Yaakob, and Binitha 2015). Along these lines, a significant and permanent reduction in the number of flight movements is the only viable way to ensure that the aviation industry attains the Paris Agreement´s objectives. (For more information on aviation, see chapter Mobility.)
Overall, the production of agrofuels undermines global food security and accelerates deforestation and biodiversity loss only to fill tanks. We acknowledge though that microalgae-based agrofuels seem to be superior to traditional agrofuels. The former seems to require less direct and indirect land use change, works well on non-arable land and without pesticides, does not compete with the cultivation of food crops and saves water (Correa et al. 2017; 2019; Klinthong et al. 2015; Voloshin et al. 2016). Some contributions, on the other hand, highlight prevalent weaknesses in the current microalgae agrofuels production process including the large quantity of energy required (Dasan et al. 2019).
Speculation with Agricultural Commodities and Food
The global food market has seen major price swings in agricultural commodity prices over the past two decades, with food prices hitting a high point in 2008 and 2011, respectively. These price spikes have pushed millions of people in Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East below the poverty threshold and incited food riots in poverty-stricken regions (Cochrane, Adams, and Kunhibava 2015). Both the price swings on the global agricultural commodity market and the food price spikes have coincided with a doubling of financial flows into the food commodity markets between 2006 and 2011. A considerable share of these new financial inflows can be attributed to speculators who bet on price developments in the global food market to benefit from the volatility in food prices. It is the co-occurrence of these developments that nurtures concerns among experts and students with regard to the distortive impact of unregulated speculation on food commodity prices.
In the beginning, contracts on future deliveries of agricultural products at a spot price that is fixed before the actual crop is harvested have proven to be an effective tool for farmers to hedge against adverse future price changes. Things have considerably changed though with the massive deregulation of commodity trading in the 2000s, first and foremost in the US. Under these relaxed rules new speculators with very distinct economic interests have rapidly increased their level of activity on the future markets in the field of agricultural commodities. Banks, hedge funds and pensions have no interest in actually possessing the agricultural crops but merely hope that food prices will increase or decrease in the time between they draw a future contract and the expiry of that contract.
Different empirical studies indicate that food speculation can dramatically amplify the detrimental effects of factors such as weather extremes or surging world market prices for fossil fuels that often precede food price spikes (Lagi et al. 2011; 2015; Herman, Kelly, and Nash 2011; Tadesse et al. 2013; UNECTAD 2009). In a nutshell, due to investors’ activity, the pronounced volatility in agricultural commodity prices does not mirror demand and supply, but speculators’ expectations about how the price will develop. The resulting jumps in food prices are a major concern for producers and consumers who need stable food prices to plan ahead. Moreover, speculators’ attempts to fill their own coffers, result in artificial price spikes that breed poverty and malnutrition in many developing countries where millions of people spend the lion's share of their income on food.
Swiss Agricultural Policies
Three different aspects of Swiss agricultural policies and laws were detected to have a direct impact on the CO2 emissions produced in Swiss agriculture.
First of all, the Direct Payments (Table 6‑1) regulated within the Agriculture Act are a big part of Swiss farmers’ income and therefore have a huge impact on the way agricultural goods are being produced. Within this legislation frameworks for agricultural production, standards that have to be met to get financial basic support are defined (Proof of Ecological Performance – ÖLN/PER). Furthermore, payments are possible if other, higher standards are met. However, the ecological requirements (ÖLN/PER) the farmers have to fulfill to receive these payments are in most cases based on self-declaration of data that are difficult to quantify. Monitoring and enforcement of the proof of ecological performance is thus difficult and offers many loopholes. In addition, those requirements are mostly not higher than what the legal basis is demanding anyhow. Some of the requirements do not even meet the existing environmental law. Key Elements of the Proof of Ecological Performance are a balanced fertilizer regime (Suisse-Bilanz) and a minimal ecological compensation area of 7%. (FOAG 2018)
Table 6‑1 Payment framework for direct payments in agricultural policy 18-21 (Schweizerische Eidgenossenschaft 2016)
A third of all the direct payments paid in Switzerland indirectly supports costly, not necessarily sustainable farming practices that would otherwise be too expensive. For instance, livestock husbandry, currently causing the major part of GHG emissions, is heavily subsidized within the Direct Payments. Contributions for the assurance of food supply (Versorgungssicherheitsbeiträge/ Contributions à la sécurité de l’approvisionnement/ Contributi per la sicurezza dell’approvvigionamento) ask for a minimal number of livestock grazing on permanent grasslands. Various subsidies, originally thought to promote animal welfare and sustainable livestock husbandry, are coupled to livestock numbers and thus indirectly lead to higher population numbers and a consolidation of an unsustainable extent of livestock.
In article 12, the Agriculture Act also states support of sales promotion measures (2) of Swiss farming products. Even though the amount of money spent on sales promotion for livestock products (12 Mio CHF for ProViande in 2018) is very little compared to the amounts spent within the Direct Payments (approx. CHF 3 bn / year) the advertisement can have a big impact on the public perception of meat & dairy products (Schweizerische Eidgenossenschaft 2020b).
Lastly, Swiss farmers profit from a reduced value-added tax for pesticides, fertilizers, animal feed and fossil fuels. These indirect subsidies lead to an economically and environmentally unsustainable use of the discounted products.
Situation of Farmer and Food Production
Climate protection in agriculture is challenging and complex. Many other aspects such as food security, land use and other aspects of sustainability as well as other actors in the food system and their dependencies must be taken into account. Achieving a sustainable food system that can cope with the climate crisis, the increasing demand for food and the shortage of fresh water is a major challenge. In order to meet this challenge, additional sectors and the population must cooperate.
To achieve the needed transition and reorientation, a lot is expected from the farmers in particular, who make up the agricultural sector. The farming profession is already a demanding profession and many standards and expectations must be met in Switzerland. The subsidies and the orientation of agriculture is already a discussed topic.
For these reasons it is important to have a look at the situation of farmers and the food system in Switzerland. Here, we will try to give a brief overview, which of course does not deal with the subject in an exhaustive manner.
Work in agriculture is demanding. In Switzerland, a farmer works an average of 60 working hours per week (BfS 2016) and seasonal harvest workers sometimes even more. Working in nature is also physically demanding and requires passion and commitment. It often means taking over a farm and a lot of responsibility and in most cases, it means a long term and far reaching decision on how to live.
Despite subsidies, farmers' economic scope is becoming increasingly limited. For many farmers and their families, it is difficult to earn sufficient income from agricultural products, or even to cover their costs at all. The number of farms has halved since 1990 and continues to decrease steadily while the average size of farms is increasing (BfS 2020). Dairy farming, which in Switzerland has long been a secure route to stable income, also through political support, can increasingly only be economically viable for large farms.
Agricultural production is at the beginning of a long value chain in which all the subsequent players must earn the greatest possible profits and put pressure on prices. At the end of this chain, there is often not much left for farmers to gain.
One criticism is that subsidies to agriculture ultimately do not help the farmers in the first place, but rather the purchasers, who can buy at lower prices. Especially monopoly customers, such as Migros, Coop or Red Bull (for sugar), can allow themselves to reduce prices extremely. But also, the sellers of machines, fertilizer, animal feed and other inputs can often profit from the subsidies.
Many farmers complain that it is no longer really possible to earn money with food production. In order to find new solutions which are financially viable, those in which the production of food is no longer the main focus often need to be chosen such as gastronomy, energy production, class tours etc. Even when new profitable techniques or methods come onto the market, the farmers are usually not the ones who benefit from the business. Nevertheless, they are often the ones who have to take responsibility for the environmental damage caused and for the practices.
For it is not only the subsidies that are politically charged, there seems to be a lot going on in Swiss agriculture in general, and there are various initiatives with different backgrounds and interests. A great deal of research has also been conducted, established and debated in Swiss agriculture on sustainability.
This high level of activity and the many changes in agriculture are also related to the profound structural changes that have taken place in global agriculture in the last decades. Due to the industrial and green revolutions, agricultural productivity exploded within a few decades. Farms could suddenly feed many more people with less labor and farm much larger areas of land. In addition, farms were increasingly managed towards a gradually profit-oriented and growth-oriented manner. Food prices of many small farms were displaced by larger and financially more efficient ones. This restructuring has an ongoing impact on agriculture around the world which was and still is traditionally very small scaled in big parts of the world. It has not reached the same extent in every region and in different countries it changed agriculture in a different way or only some aspects were adopted while others were not. In many countries, this has already taken on a much more extreme dimension than in Switzerland, where it is due to geographical, political and cultural conditions.
Although restructuring brings an increase in productivity, in many cases it also requires a lot of seasonal work such as harvesting legumes. In Switzerland this work is carried out by migrant seasonal workers. In order to pay Swiss people appropriately for their hard and arduous work, there seems to be a lack of money in agriculture. The workload is therefore generally concentrated on just a few people who work much. The number of full-time employees has been cut in half since 1990 (BfS 2020).
The migrant workers are often invisible and are not part of our image of agriculture. In fact, they are an evident part of Swiss agriculture, as well as of the European one.
Policy Measures Concerning the International Impact
The volume of internationally traded processed and unprocessed agricultural products has skyrocketed over the past years, from 443.2 billion USD in 2000 to 1310.8 billion USD in 2016, and is expected to continue doing so in the future (Tuninetti, Ridolfi, and Laio 2020; Balogh and Jambor 2020). Switzerland is no exception to this trend and its import and export figures of agricultural products hit a new high point in 2018 (Eidgenössische Zollverwaltung 2020). While it strictly protects its domestic markets from the entrance of some agricultural products, the country strongly relies on agricultural imports, including soybeans, palm oil and animal feedstuff (Rossi 2019). Recent developments suggest that Switzerland will not reduce its activities in international agricultural trade any time soon. On the contrary, the conclusion of the trade deal with first Indonesia and then the MERCOSUR states in summer 2019 indicates that the Swiss government is willing to sacrifice environmental interest for economic prospects.
Policy 6.1: Free Trade Agreements
Policy 6.2: Ban for Growing, Using and Trading Agrofuels by 2023.
Policy 6.3: International agricultural corporations in Switzerland
Policy 6.4: International Trade with Food in Switzerland
Policy 6.5: Ban for Speculation with Agricultural Commodities and Food
Policy 6.6: Cross-Sectoral Nutrition Strategy
Policy 6.7: Awareness Rising and Sustainable Diet in Public Canteens
Policy 6.8: Training Courses for Professional Chiefs
Policy 6.9: Support Sustainable Alternatives in Proceeding Sector and Retailer
Policy 6.10: No Subsidies for Animal Sourced Food Publicity
Policy 6.11: Food Labelling and Pricing with Climate Impact Assessment
Policy 6.12: Taxes on Animal Sourced Food
Food waste indicates a substantial inefficiency in our food system, from an ecological, ethical as well as an economic perspective. Ecologically, food waste stands for a waste of those natural re-sources which build the foundation of our food system. Reducing food waste thereby means avoid-ing the waste and depletion of soil and water resources, the waste of energy as well as agricultural inputs including pesticides and fertilizers. For Switzerland, zero food waste would indicate avoid-ance of 24% of the total GHG emissions from the entire food system (C. Beretta & S. Hellweg, 2019). From an economical point of view, only considering avoidable food waste in households, the costs of food waste in Switzerland amount to about CHF 600 per person per year, summing up to the potential of saving CHF 5 bn per year. Finally, considering the millions of people facing hunger worldwide, reducing food waste represents an ethical necessity.
However, as previously introduced, food waste is a complex problem concerning all stages of the food chain, including producers, distributors and consumers. Accordingly, to reduce food waste, a coherent framework with measures concerning all stages of the food chain is needed. Thereby, these measures primarily should seek to prevent food waste by limiting the generation of surplus food at each stage of the food supply chain (i.e. production, processing, distribution and consump-tion), and secondly, where food waste still arises, they should secure the most efficient use of the surplus food.
Policy 6.13: Educate and Raise Awareness on Food Waste
Policy 6.14: New Labeling for Expiration Dates
Policy 6.15: Adjust Industry Norms
Policy 6.16: Promotion of initiatives for food waste reduction
Policy 6.17: Updating the Vocational Education for Farmers
Policy 6.18: Improving Farmers Rights and Working Conditions
Policy 6.19: More People Working in Agriculture
Policy 6.20: Import of Animal Products and Productivity
Policy 6.21: No Subsidies for Feed Production on Arable Land
Policy 6.22: No Imports of Animal Feedstuff
Policy 6.23: Limit Stocking Densities for Ruminants
Policy 6.24: Limit Populations of Non-Ruminant Animals
Policy 6.25: Consider Maximum Stocking Densities for New Projects
Policy 6.26: Promote Research and Development
Policy 6.27: Promote Alternatives to Animal Proteins
Policy 6.28: Promote Alternative Income Possibilities
Minimize GHG intensive practices
Nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions from agricultural soils are the second largest GHG emission source in the agricultural sector (1.58 Mt CO2 eq.; see Current Situation). They are mostly a result of nitrogen transformation processes in animal manure and agricultural soils. The production and use of nitrogen containing fertilizers (mineral fertilizer and animal manure) are the cause of most N2O emissions. Among the additional nitrogen sources are decaying crop residues, nitrogen mineralization in soils and inputs from atmospheric deposition of nitrogen species leading to N2O emissions. Particularly high nitrogen supplies beyond requirements of crops lead to hot spots of N2O emissions.
However, any overabundance of nitrogen, also when coming from high additions of compost, will lead to N2O emissions. In addition to on-farm greenhouse gas emissions from fertilizers, emissions of around 0.81 Mt CO2 eq. are incurred during the production of agricultural inputs abroad, mineral fertilizers and animal feed. The use of organic soils for arable farming or grazing is another major source of GHG emissions (mainly CO2) in Swiss agriculture. Additionally, CO2 emissions from the combustion of fossil fuels in agricultural machinery and buildings amount to 0.63 Mt CO2 eq. and therefore contribute 10% of the GHG emissions from agricultural production in Switzerland. To reduce all these emissions from agricultural production, several measures are proposed below.
Policy 6.29: Promote Low-Input Agriculture
Policy 6.30: Tax on Nitrogen Inputs that Exceed Plant Demand & Cap for Synthetic Fertilizer Application (SFA)
Policy 6.31: Rewetting of Organic Soils
Policy 6.32: Apply Standard Mineral Oil Tax to Agriculture
Policy 6.33: Promotion of Individual Technical Mitigation Measures
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