Faced with a financial hole of €853 million for organic and mountain areas farming, France’s Agriculture Minister Stéphane Travert decided to review the allocation of funds under the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) for the period 2018-2020.
According to the EU Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM EU), consumers have more than doubled their consumption of organic products and demand is outstripping supply.
The EU organic market experienced a 7.4% growth spurt in 2014 and retail sales topped €24 billion. But the increase in organic farmland area in the EU slowed. It grew by just 1.1% and the number of organic producers declined by 0.2%.
The Ministry of Agriculture announced that it would transfer money initially earmarked for conventional agriculture to finance organic agriculture.
France notified the European Commission yesterday (1 August) that it would transfer 4.2% of the funds from the direct payments pillar to the second pillar of rural development in order to support young farmers, organic production and farming in mountainous areas.
The minister tried to reassure organic producers and stressed that France’s organic land currently stands at 6% while the goal is to reach 8% by 2021. He noted that if the current rate of conversions is sustained, the country should naturally reach 9% by 2020.
But it seems that the government’s plans cannot appease organic farmers’ organisations, which worry about their future.
According to the national federation of organic agriculture, €250 to €300 million of aid per year for conversion and maintenance in organic farming is required.
Stéphanie Pageot, president of the federation of organic agriculture, warned that the pressure of agrochemicals and conventional agriculture, and in particular of the large cereal farmers who benefit from huge amounts of aid, had overtaken general interest.
“It is essential to reverse the trend for the protection of water and biodiversity but also for the health of farmers and citizens,” she said.