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How the EU Commission wants to boost organic sales

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EU Commission
The European Commission published its EU Organic Action Plan recently. © Shutterstock / roibu

The European Commission wants to give organic products a boost. A corresponding action plan to promote organic farming was presented by EU Agriculture Commissioner Janusz Wojciechowski on Thursday.

The action plan was already announced in the Farm to Fork Strategy and the Biodiversity Strategy published in May 2020. These two strategies, presented as part of the European Green Deal, aim to enable the transition to sustainable food systems and address the main causes of biodiversity loss.

The action plan is now intended to help the EU achieve the target of 25 percent organic farming by 2030 laid down in the Green Deal after all. Currently, around 8.5 percent of agricultural land in the EU is farmed organically. If the area continues to grow at the current rate, the Commission is only looking at around 15 to 18 percent organic area by 2030. The action plan aims to counter this with measures in three priority areas.

Focus: Promoting the consumption of organic products

The most important measures at a glance:

  • Information and communication about organic production.
  • Promotion of the consumption of organic products
  • Promotion of the supply of organic products in public canteens through the public procurement system
  • Expanding the distribution of organic products in the EU school program
  • Strengthen consumer confidence in organic products
  • Prevent organic fraud
  • Improve traceability of organic products

Focus: Expanding organic production

The most important measures at a glance:

  • Organize information events and networks to share best practices.
  • Certification of producer associations (rather than individuals)
  • Research and innovation
  • Blockchain and other technologies to improve traceability and increase market transparency
  • Strengthening small local processing operations
  • Support for food chain organization
  • Improving animal nutrition

Focus: Making organic more sustainable

The most important measures at a glance:

  • Strengthen animal welfare
  • Ensure availability of organic seeds
  • Reduce the sector's carbon footprint
  • Reduce consumption of plastics as much as possible
  • Reduce water consumption as much as possible
  • Reduce energy consumption as much as possible
  • Increase the share of research and innovation: At least 30 percent of funding for research and innovation activities in agriculture, forestry and rural areas should be allocated to organic issues

Jan Plagge, president of IFOAM Organics Europe , comments:  “The EU Farm to Fork and Biodiversity strategies put organic farming at the heart of a transition to sustainable food systems, with a target to reach 25% organic land on average by 2030 and with the publication of a new EU organic action plan, which will mark a new era for the transformation of our food systems towards organic and agroecology”. He added that “the Commission has put forward concrete steps to boost organic demand such as the €49 million budget for organic within the promotion policies framework as well as the integration of organic products into the minimum mandatory criteria for sustainable public procurement. Given the importance of knowledge in organic food systems and the role that organic practices play in the internalisation of external costs, allocating at least 30% of the Horizon Europe funding for agriculture, forestry and rural areas to topics relevant for the organic sector, as well as carrying out a study on the real price of food and the role of taxation are timely steps forward”.

CAP remains key instrument

While the action plan focuses primarily on the pull of demand, the Common Agricultural Policy remains a key instrument for promoting conversion, the EU Commission informs. At the same time, it is calling on member states to develop national action plans for the organic sector to increase the share of organic land at the national level. Gerald Wehde, head of agricultural policy at Bioland, believes this step is "absolutely necessary to bring momentum and determination to the organic conversion of agriculture." Currently, there are wide disparities among member states in terms of the share of the organic sector, ranging from 0.5 percent to more than 25 percent. National action plans for the organic sector are intended to complement national CAP strategic plans with measures that look beyond agriculture and what is available under the CAP.

 


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