Tales of sustainable agriculture: Exploring public's judgement of the European Farm to Fork strategy on Twitter
In 2019 the European Commission presented the Green Deal as it's pathbreaking
concept to realize the transformation towards a sustainable European economy.
For the agricultural sector, two accompanying strategies were presented: the
Farm to Fork (F2F) as well as the Biodiversity strategy. The overall goal of both
strategies is the creation of an European sustainable agri-food system. However,
the F2F strategy does not provide a consistent agricultural policy strategy, yet,
but rather focus on the implementation of the Green Deal's agricultural main
goals, which are de ned as the following technical production restrictions and
target values: (1) Reduction of mineral fertilizer use by 20%, (2) reduction of
pesticide use by 50%, (3) reduction of the N-balance surplus by 50%, (4) share of
ecological compensation conservation areas of at least 10%, (5) share of organic
farming of at least 25%. Evaluating the impact of the implementation of F2F-
strategy requires assessing its induced e ects on the relevant ecosystem services
(nitrogen-balance, biodiversity and CO2-emission) as well as the implied welfare
e ects for relevant socio-economic groups (farmers, agribusiness and consumers).
Beyond scienti c assessment the political feasibility of the implementation
of the F2F-strategy crucially depends on how relevant political actors, Euro-
pean government, stakeholders and voters anticipate e ects of F2F-measures.
This political assessment is rather complex, where political actors as economic
laymen form naive mental models on how di erent measures impact on relevant
policy outcomes. The latter correspond to subjective policy beliefs which are
formed via observational learning and informational lobbying as well as trans-
ported through framing. Hence, compared to scienti c results policy beliefs can
be biased, e.g. especially politicians of the Green party believe that ecological
farming signi cantly reduces nitrogen out ows as well as CO2 emissions of agri-
culture, while scienti c studies uniquely show that ecological farming is rather
ine ective in reducing GHG-emission as well as the nitrogen out ows. Accord-
ingly, it is important to align policy beliefs with scienti c results. In this regard,
a better understanding of how subjective policy beliefs are formed and updated
In this context this paper focuses on framing as the process of selecting some
aspects of a perceived reality that are given more importance than others in a
communication, where a frame is an organised unit for arguments and interpre-
tations. The question occurs, which frames are prevalent in the debate on F2F
and biodiversity and therefore might in uence the concrete implementation of
agricultural policies. Moreover, it would be interesting to identify whether cer-
tain interest groups use framing in public debates as a tool of outside lobbying.
A potential source of frames are online media. In particular, the use of social
media platforms can change political attitudes, so that online socialisation
plays an increasingly important role in political science analysis. Thereby, these
platforms mix the classical roles of sender and receiver and, as a network-capable
communication channel, facilitate the encounter with dissenting opinions. They
thus resemble digital communication arenas in which narratives on political
issues are exchanged. We therefore use data from the social network Twitter.
In particular, we apply quantitative text analysis methods to identify prevalent
frames regarding sustainable agriculture in the context of F2F. Moreover, we
analyse which frames are used by civic social organizations, agricultural interest
groups, political agents as well as private persons ( laymen ) in the debate.