May 18. 2024. 9:49

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More actions needed to make organic farming competitive, say stakeholders

Amid fears that the EU will miss its target of 25% organic agriculture by 2030, stakeholders are calling for a more favourable policy framework to boost demand for organic products.

Stakeholders in the organic sector say the European Commission should take further steps to encourage consumers to buy organic products, as demand could stand in the way of meeting the EU’s goal of having 25% of agricultural land under organic farming by 2030.

“The demand for organic products does not fall from the sky,” Henri Delanghe of the Commission’s Directorate-General for Agriculture (DG Agri) admitted during a debate organised by Euractiv on Thursday (18 April), urging EU countries to take steps to encourage consumption of organic produce.

While the increase in the bloc’s organic area is positive, the annual report of the Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL), published in February, warned that the organic market “needs to grow at a faster rate” to reach the target.

The report found that, after years of double-digit growth, the organic market contracted in 2022 as a result of inflation pushing up the price of organic products.

According to Jan Plagge, president of the EU organic farming organisation IFOAM, the EU still needs to ensure that, for consumers, “the choice for organic is not a question of wealth or luxury”.

While Delanghe recognised that efforts to boost demand for organic products must continue, he said that concerns “should not be exaggerated”.

“The overall trend is still positive,” he said.

A report by McKinsey published on 10 April found that the European food retail sector is showing early signs of recovery after years of tight spending, with higher-income households indicating their intention to buy more organic products in 2024.

Proposed measures

During the debate, stakeholders proposed different actions to stimulate demand at the EU level.

“We need a tax system incentivising farmers in making the transition and consumers to buy the product,” said Peter Schmidt, president of the Agriculture and Nature section at the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC).

Martin Dermine, executive director of the European Pesticides Action Network (PAN Europe), said the environmental impact of different products should be reflected in their final price, which would make organic products cheaper than those from conventional farming.

Meanwhile, for EU farmers association COPA and COGECA, efforts should be made to increase innovation in the sector.

“What we need is to make organic farming more sustainable,” said Lone Andersen, chair of the organic working group at COPA and COGECA, pointing out that organic farmers have fewer restrictions on the use of synthetic substances that can help reduce emissions.

Read more with Euractiv

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