Coffee Growers Worry About New EU Anti-Deforestation Rules

Coffee growers in many countries are concerned about a new European rule designed to prevent deforestation, which refers to the cutting down of trees for crops, buildings, or land for cattle grazing. The new rule goes into effect at the end of 2024 and covers products like coffee, cocoa, soy, palm oil, wood, rubber, and beef. The European Union says all of those products result in tree cutting, and the United Nations says deforestation is the world’s second-leading cause of carbon emissions after the burning of fossil fuels.

Large producers must show their products come from land where trees have not been cut down since 2020. Smaller producers must do the same but will be permitted to sell their products until July 2025. A report from the World Wildlife Fund showed that Europe’s imports of products linked to forest-clearing caused the second-most deforestation in the world in 2017. An expert said the new European rule could help prevent more deforestation and push farmers around the world to plant trees, vines, and grasses.

Global Canopy, a nonprofit organization based in Britain, suggests businesses change their production methods that hurt the environment. She said the new EU rules could force governments to help farmers make changes. On the other hand, farmers could just sell to countries outside of the EU. The world’s top coffee producers include Vietnam, Ethiopia, and Peru. Growers in those countries worry they will no longer be able to sell in Europe.

The new EU rules could help coffee farmers like Le Van Tam of Vietnam, who has taken the environment into account by changing his growing methods in 2019. Vietnam hopes that more farmers will make changes, which will permit them to sell in Europe and maintain the nation’s rank as the world’s second-largest coffee producer. However, orders for Ethiopian coffee are already falling, and Peru’s farmers in the Amazon River area may not be able to provide information required by the EU.

Small Vietnamese farmers still need to get ready for the new rules, which require technology to prove where their beans came from and that their land is certified by the EU. They will also need to ensure the qualified beans are not mixed with banned beans. From the harvest to shipment, new systems must be put into place to prevent errors.

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