Federal Minister of Agriculture Julia Klöckner described the G20 Meeting of Agriculture Ministers held in Buenos Aires, Argentina on 27 and 28 July a "huge breakthrough for agriculture, the climate and therefore for consumers." More had been achieved, she said, than was expected in the run-up to the meeting.
The G20 agriculture ministers affirmed their commitment to a multilateral trade system based on WTO rules. They also expressed their concern about the increasing use of protectionist measures around the world.
A joint agreement on climate action was reached which stresses the particular responsibility of the agricultural sector. The G20 are also committed to sustainable land use, reducing food loss and waste, and continuing the fight against antimicrobial resistance (AMR).
Germany to formulate arable farming strategy
Ministers reaffirmed the importance of healthy soils, which is why they also agreed various measures aimed at combining improved productivity with sustainability in agriculture, reducing soil pollution and protecting biodiversity. This is especially important given that ten million hectares of arable land is lost worldwide each year due to erosion.
The G20 tasked Germany with formulating an arable farming strategy to be presented at the next meeting in 2019. The Federal Government had already announced its intention to draw up an arable farming strategy in its Coalition Agreement.
Fighting antimicrobial resistance
The G20 agriculture ministers also pledged to significantly restrict the use of antimicrobials in livestock farming. In future, they are only to be used for therapeutic purposes. The use of antimicrobials to promote growth or as a preventive measure is to be avoided as a means of combating the global problem of AMR.
Global Forum in Berlin in 2019
The meeting also addressed the responsible use of agricultural resources and reducing food loss and waste. Federal Minister of Agriculture Julia Klöckner invited her colleagues to the Global Forum for Food and Agriculture (GFFA) so that they can continue their discussions on these issues. The GFFA will be held in Berlin in January 2019.
The G20 agriculture ministers were able to reach a unanimous consensus in their joint declaration at the end of the summit. Julia Klöckner said: "What is important is that, in these difficult times, we were able to agree on common goals. Above all, I welcome the agreement reached on combating climate change and the bigger role which agriculture will have to play." Agriculture had to become more resilient, she said. The Federal Minister said that protecting soils was an important issue and soil fertility needed to be maintained – for the sake of future generations.
Julia Klöckner travelled to Argentina with a six-point agenda:
- The importance of agriculture and the value attached to food production.
- Compliance with and strengthing of WTO rules as the basis for a common understanding of free trade and thus for global peace.
- The responsible use of antimicrobials in livestock farming.
- Development of an arable farming strategy under the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture's lead.
- The role of agriculture and land use.
- Digitalisation in the agricultural sector, including through the use of precision technology.
The G20 countries represent 85 per cent of global economic output, and they control 60 per cent of global agricultural land and 80 per cent of global trade in agricultural goods. Given that its members represent almost two thirds of the world's population, G20 meetings send a powerful signal and provide the impetus for reforms at national and international level.