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21 actions to boost organic farming

European Commission - IP/04/730   10/06/2004

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IP/04/730

Brussels, 10 June 2004

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21 actions to boost organic farming

Today, the European Commission has adopted the “European Action Plan for Organic Food and Farming”. Its objective is to facilitate the ongoing development of organic farming in the EU. The Commission puts forward a list of 21 concrete policy measures to be implemented, such as improving information about organic farming, streamlining public support via rural development, improving production standards or strengthening research. This plan comes in response to a rapid increase in the number of farmers producing organically and to a strong demand from consumers during the last years. It is based on extensive consultations with Member States and stakeholders including an online consultation in 2003, a hearing in January 2004, and meetings with Member States and stakeholder groups. The Action Plan will be presented at the next Agriculture Council.

Commenting on the Action Plan, Franz Fischler, Commissioner for Agriculture, Rural Development and Fisheries said: “Promoting environmentally friendly quality products is one major objective of the new, reformed Common Agricultural Policy. This is why we want to boost organic farming by stepping up information for consumers, strengthening the control system and improving research”.

The plan includes 21 actions which are designed to:

Improve information

EU consumers are not well informed about the principles and the benefits of organic farming. In order to broaden the information available about organic farming, it is important that objective and reliable information is made available by the public authorities in Member States and the EU.

Action: The plan foresees the launch of EU wide information campaigns co-funded by the EU.

They shall target consumers, operators or public canteens and explain the merits of organic farming, promote the use of the EU logo, provide more transparency on different quality standards, and improve the availability of organic produce to EU consumers.

Render public policy more effective

Organic farming is an important tool in the strategy of environmental integration and sustainable development which are key principles of the common agricultural policy (CAP). Organic farmers are currently eligible to receive support through direct payments and price support measures. In addition, organic farming is fully integrated in rural development policy and plays an important role in delivering environmental benefits.

Action: The Commission strongly recommends Member States to make full use within their rural development programmes of the instruments available to support organic farming focussing for example on:

  • stimulating the demand side by using the new quality schemes;
  • actions in order to preserve the benefits for the environment and nature protection in the long term;
  • developing incentives to organic farmers to convert the whole instead of part of the farm;
  • developing incentives to producers to facilitate distribution and marketing;
  • training and education for all operators in organic farming, covering production, processing and marketing

Enhance research

In order to facilitate the expansion of the organic farming sector, and also to increase its production capacity, new information and, above all, new technologies are required.

Action: The Commission proposals to strengthen training and research are relevant at all levels, from the adoption of research programmes in universities or other research bodies, to on-farm training to ensure suitable technology transfer to farmers.

Reinforce standards, import and inspection requirements

By its very nature as a well-defined production system resulting in products with a higher price, organic farming can not exist without basic agreed production standards and reliable controls throughout the production chain. Consumer confidence in organic food products is built on these two elements.

Action:

  • Defining the basic principles of organic agriculture and thus making its public service explicit; increasing transparency and consumer confidence;
  • establishing an independent panel for technical advice;
  • a further harmonisation and reinforcement of the standards making use of international organisations;
  • improving standards, for example, with regard to animal welfare;
  • completing the standards for areas not yet covered such as aquaculture or environment-related standards such as fossil energy use, etc.;
  • clarifying the standards laid down for the prohibition of the use of GMOs;
  • increasing the efficiency and transparency of the inspection system;
  • making import provisions more efficient.

For the full text of the action plan, the Commission staff working document and more details see separate MEMO/04/145 “Organic farming in the EU” or check out the Commission’s website on organic farming:

http://ec.europa.eu/agriculture/qual/organic/plan/index_en.htm


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