Brussels launches plan to help farmers convert to environmentalism

25 Mar 2021

Convinced that organic agriculture is the future, Brussels presented on Thursday an action plan that aims to help European farmers and ranchers to make the leap to organic production, with the aim of achieving that by 2030 at least 25% of the European agricultural area is bio.

The initiative also aims to contribute to ecological aquaculture.

“The action plan for organics provides tools and ideas to accompany a balanced growth of the sector. This development will be supported by the Common Agricultural Policy ”, said the European Commissioner for Agriculture, Janusz Wojciechowski, at the presentation of the plan at a press conference.

The main action is to “stimulate demand and ensure consumer confidence,” with promotional campaigns and other measures to ensure that fraud does not occur, said the commissioner.

He pointed out that this type of production will benefit small and medium producers in particular.

Differences between countries

In particular, it contains a set of proposals to boost both the production and consumption of organic food, as there are currently large differences between Member States.

According to data from the European Commission, each European spends an average of 84 euros on organic products per year, although the differences between states are large and vary between 344 euros in countries like Denmark and just 1 euro in others.

This is due not only to different purchasing power (organic products are generally more expensive), but above all to the fact that the market in some regions is still very small and there are no adequate supply chains. Another problem is the little awareness of the “bio” logo among citizens and the benefits of these products.

Brussels also underlines the growth potential of organic aquaculture.

Organic production figures

The area dedicated to organic agriculture in the EU has grown by almost 66% in the last decade, from 8.3 million hectares in 2009 to 13.8 million in 2019; at present it represents 8.5% of the total surface.

Even if it continues as before and no changes are made, the share of organic agriculture should reach between 15% and 18% of the agricultural area in 2030, indicates the document published today.

However, organic production between countries varies between countries with Austria leading (26%), followed by Sweden and Estonia at around 20% and others where it is around 3%, such as Bulgaria or Romania, he said. the commissioner.

On the other hand, the CAP uses around 1.8% of its budget (7.5 billion euros) to support organic farming.

The next reform of this policy will include the eco-schemes, which are expected to be supported by a budget of 38,000 to 58,000 million euros for the period 2023 to 2027.

Proposals to stimulate consumption

Among other initiatives, the plan proposes to promote the European “bio” logo and carry out specific campaigns in countries where demand is low.

In addition, it highlights the role of cities and regions in promoting this type of food and points to canteens as places that can favor their consumption and to supermarkets.

Another idea is to use the European program for the distribution of milk, dairy, fruits and vegetables in schools, co-financed by the EU, to raise awareness of organic products among children.

Brussels underlines the need to strengthen controls to avoid fraud in relation to these products that could damage the confidence of the population.

Likewise, it emphasizes the need to monitor the progress that is being made and for this it will organize follow-up meetings every year and publish progress reports every two years and a mid-term review of the plan in 2024.

To raise awareness, it will also organize an annual “Organic Day” at European level.

Industry reactions

The Spanish Association of Organic Producers and Marketers (Asobio) believes that the implementation of the plan “will mean the greatest known revolution in the sector.” Sources of this organization have considered that its budgetary allocations and its catalog of measures “are at the height of the ambitious objectives” set for the sector.

Among them, they mentioned this Thursday in a statement that the community strategy “From farm to table”, presented last year by the Executive of the European Union (EU), is committed to 25% of the total agricultural area go green by 2030. Despite the “remarkable growth” of organic farming in recent years, Asobio recalled that Spain is the EU country with the largest certified organic area in the EU, but only represents 9.3% of its total agricultural area.

“The adoption of the EU Action Plan implies recognition at the highest level of the work that organic producers, processors and marketers have been doing and supports the need for a sustainable and healthy food and production system”, according to the president of Asobio, Joan Picazos. The new Plan has highlighted, among other aspects, that 30% of the budget of the European lines of research and development (R&D) aimed at agriculture, forestry resources and rural areas will be used to finance projects related to the ecological sector.

It also provides for new budgetary allocations for the promotion of ecological agri-food products and the development of action plans at the national level. Asobio has advanced that on April 15 the main advisor of the General Directorate of Agriculture of the European Commission, Diego Canga, will present the European Ecological Action Plan in Spain.

The organic production association Ecovalia considers the content of the plan “very positive” because it represents an “effective reinforcement of the policies of the From farm to table strategy” for the sector. Sources of this organization have highlighted in a statement that the plan is aimed at promoting consumption, promotion and research and development (R&D) policies in the field of organic production. It has also applauded that it incorporates the obligation for each EU country to assign specific budgets to organic production through national action plans and that its content should be taken into account in the strategic plans of each member of the European Union for Agricultural Policy. Common (PAC) 2023/27.

This organization has also advanced that the Action Plan foresees the celebration of an “Ecological Day” in the EU to raise awareness about organic agriculture, as well as the integration of organic products in the criteria for sustainable public food procurement. After a first reading of the document, they have stressed that the implementation of the so-called “biodistricts” and the realization of a study on the real price of food with a view to developing recommendations on taxation and accounting is planned.

Source: Efeagro