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Organic farming: local leaders call for a stronger role in the implementation and evaluation of the action plan  
Organic farming, through its positive environmental and climate impact in terms of improved carbon sequestration and soil health, biodiversity conservation and animal welfare, contributes to the objectives of the European Green Deal and targets of the EU Farm to Fork and Biodiversity strategies. The European Committee of the Regions (CoR) adopted on 2 December the opinion on EU action plan for organic farming.

The CoR welcomes the EU action plan for organic farming and endorses its comprehensive approach. The aim of the action plan is to increase the production and consumption of organic products, thereby reducing the use of fertilisers, pesticides and antimicrobials. Under three axes - increasing consumption, increasing production and further improving the sustainability of the sector - 23 actions are proposed.

The rapporteur on EU action plan for organic farming, Uroš Brežan (SI/Greens), mayor of Tolmin, said: “Increasing support to organic farming is urgent, in order to ensure the achievement of the 25% target of agricultural land devoted to organics by 2030. We must ensure that the next Common Agricultural Policy will contribute to the European Green Deal and to the Farm to Fork and Biodiversity strategies' targets. Local and regional authorities have a key role in the creation and development of 'biodistricts' and structuring the organic sector. Thus, local and regional authorities should be closely associated in both the implementation and the evaluation of the action plan through a network at the regional level. We call the Commission to set up such a network.”

Local leaders emphasised their key role in raising awareness at local level, informing consumers about the positive impact of organic farming and developing educational programmes for nurseries and schools. The opinion points out that local and regional authorities have a key role also in structuring the organic sector in terms of production, logistics and trade, facilitating structured cooperation between producers and consumers.

To stimulate the production side, all European and national policies must be mobilised to increase the consumption of organic products, stressed local leaders. In 2019, the EU had an organic land area of approximately 8%, while subsidies for organic farming represent only 1.5% of the total European agricultural budget. Organic farming is underfunded under the CAP, which is currently not fully consistent with the objectives of the Organic Farming Action Plan. Moreover, the opinion recommends the Commission to thoroughly evaluate the CAP national strategic plans submitted by the Member States in order to monitor that they will contribute to achieving the target of 25% of agricultural land devoted to organic farming by 2030.

The CoR welcomes the recognition of Bio districts as effective rural development tools. In the geographical area of a Bio district, farmers, the public, local public administrations, associations and commercial tourist and cultural enterprises enter into an agreement for the sustainable management of local resources based on principles and methods of organic production and consumption. Such regions in particular should therefore receive support and common services via a network to be set up by the European Commission.

Background information:

  • Organic action plan - by producing high quality food with low environmental impact, organic farming will play an essential role in developing a sustainable food system for the EU. A sustainable food system is at the heart of the European Green Deal. Under the Green Deal’s Farm to Fork strategy, the European Commission has set a target of ‘at least 25% of the EU’s agricultural land under organic farming and a significant increase in organic aquaculture by 2030’. To achieve this target and to help the organics sector reach its full potential, the Commission is putting forward an action plan for organic production in the EU.
  • CAP strategic plans: Issues and expectations for EU agriculture : The European Commission's legislative proposals for the reform of the common agricultural policy (CAP) were published in June 2018. Since then a number of significant developments have occurred in this policy area. These include the adoption of the European Green Deal and its associated initiatives of the'farm to fork' strategy and the biodiversity strategy, and also the agreement on the 2021 2027 multiannual financial framework (MFF) alongside additional support of €7.5 billion for rural development from the Next Generation EU initiative as part of the recovery and resilience package.
  • Farming without plant protection products
  • The EU 'farm to fork' strategy : On 20 May 2020, the European Commission adopted a communication on 'A farm to fork strategy for a fair, healthy and environmentally friendly food system'.
  • IFOAM Organics Europe: IFOAM Organics Europe is the European umbrella organisation for organic food and farming. They represent organic in European policymaking and advocate for a transformation of food and farming. Their work is based on the principles of organic agriculture – health, ecology, fairness and care. With almost 200 members in 34 European countries, their work spans the entire organic food chain.

The plenary agenda

Webstreaming : On the web​​site of the CoR.

Contact:

Wioletta Wojewodzka

Tel. +32 473 843 986

wioletta.wojewodzka@cor.europa.eu

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