EU organic sector needs market-driven solutions, national strategies, say MEPs

The report called for the creation of national or regional strategies with “concrete, time-bound actions” for organic farming. [SHUTTERSTOCK]

The European Parliament’s agriculture committee (AGRI) has green-lit a new report on the EU’s organic action plan, in which it stressed the need for market-driven solutions and more support for countries to draw up individual strategies to boost the sector.

The own-initiative report, which was unanimously green-lit by MEPs on Thursday (31 March), was put together in reaction to the Commission’s organic action plan, unveiled back in March 2021.

The plan outlines a three-pronged attack designed to incentivise both the production and consumption of organic produce across the bloc, in line with the ambitious target of 25% of agricultural land farmed organically by 2030, as outlined in the EU’s flagship Farm to Fork (F2F) food policy.

The committee report welcomed the Commission’s recognition of organic farming as a key component on the EU’s path towards more sustainable food systems and embraced the ambition set out in the F2F strategy.

It also emphasised that the development and growth of the organic sector must be accompanied by market-driven and holistic supply chain developments.

The report, therefore, called for measures to stimulate further demand for organic food, while also ensuring consumer trust and safeguarding the future profitability of the EU organic market.

As such, MEPs called for the establishment of a harmonised European system for the certification of inputs for organic farming.

In acknowledgement of the different starting points of each member state, the report supported the creation of national or regional strategies with “concrete, time-bound actions” for organic farming.

These plans should be drafted in an extensive consultative process with all stakeholders, especially organic farmers and associations, in order to achieve the “best possible synergies,” the report said.

While this is ambition is outlined in the Commission’s organic action plan, MEPs called on the EU executive for more support in this area.

Organic food 'healthier' says agri Commissioner as EU launches new organic plan

Organic food is “healthier” than its chemically produced counterparts, EU Agricultural Commissioner Janusz Wojciechowski told journalists at an event to mark the launch of the EU’s organic action plan on Thursday (25 March).

Welcoming the backing of the MEPs, IFOAM Organics Europe’s President Jan Plagge called the plan “crucial” to increase both the production and demand for organic products required to reach the 25% target.

“Organic farming is part of the solution when it comes to mitigating the effects of climate change and restoring biodiversity loss,” he said, emphasising the need to raise awareness about organic and better diets both in schools and among consumers.

For their part, the EU farmers’ association COPA-COGECA also welcomed the “good work done by the committee”.

The association particularly praised the report’s emphasis on the need for a strong market-driven approach, including via the backing of green public procurement, as well as highlighting the need to support farmers in their conversion procedure.

“European farmers and agri-cooperatives need a strong market-driven approach, as well as new and better inputs to remain competitive and viable,” Lone Andersen, chairwoman of the association’s working party on organic, said, adding that all these aspects are included in the report, and the party is therefore “very content” of the work done by MEPs.

The resolution on an EU action plan for organic agriculture will now be voted on by the plenary of the Parliament, which is tentatively pencilled during the May session.

[Edited by Nathalie Weatherald]

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