Political hotspot July 2020
With the publication of the EU Biodiversity and Farm to Fork (F2F) strategies, the European Commission puts organic food and farming at the heart of a transition of the food system towards sustainability, with a target to reach 25% organic land by 2030.
Positive words from Commissioners at European Organic Congress
European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, Stella Kyriakides, speaking at the European Organic Congress (EOC) through a video message, confirmed this ambition and said there was a “need to step up our efforts to stimulate a strong demand and uptake of organic products.” Consumers are drivers of change and could make sustainability ‘bankable,’ she argued. “This is why we will promote organic food, support green public procurement, increase the share of organic products in public catering systems, and expand organic canteens,” she added.
European Commissioner for Agriculture, Janusz Wojciechowski, also speaking at the EOC, stressed that the target was achievable and highlighted the future contribution of the upcoming EU Organic Action Plan, which should be available and open to public consultation after the summer.
IFOAM Organics Europe has welcomed the Farm to Fork Strategy, which provides a clear vision, ambition and direction for the future EU agriculture and food policy. The positive words of Commissioners Wojciechowski and Kyriakides are a clear recognition of the benefits of organic food and farming for farmers, society, and nature.
Making 25% organic land by 2030 a reality
While the Commission is expected to dedicate a larger share of EU funds for promotion policy and research and innovation to organic farming, most measures that can contribute to increasing organic land and production (including well-funded farm advisory services) and organic demand through public procurements, depend largely on the goodwill of Member States.
The outcome of the negotiations on the future Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), entering into force in 2023, is therefore crucial. That is why IFOAM Organics Europe tries to convince Members of the European Parliament to make it mandatory for Member States to include a national target for organic land (national governments would be free to choose the relevant target) as well as a coherent strategy to boost demand in their CAP strategic plans.
The German Presidency of the Council of the European Union has indicated its intention to reach a ‘general approach’ on the CAP Strategic Plan Regulation in the Council of Ministers by October, which is ambitious but achievable. The situation in the European Parliament looks a bit more complicated, as the Environment Committee decided to withdraw from the negotiations with the Agriculture Committee, citing a lack of ambition to green the CAP and a reluctance take into account their positions. The Agriculture Committee signalled its intention to continue its work on new compromises on the CAP nonetheless, while Environment MEPs would favour more inclusive talks directly at political group level, ahead of the plenary vote, also expected by October/November. We hope that the situation will get unstuck rapidly in the European Parliament and that the new impetus given by the German Presidency to speed up the negotiations will not be at the detriment of the level of environmental ambition in the CAP. To achieve the targets of the Farm to Fork strategy to increase organic land and reduce pesticides and fertilisers use, and to halt the collapse of biodiversity in our countryside, we need a reformed CAP that can truly incentivise and help farmers to transition to agroecological practices, including organic farming through proper support for maintenance and conversion.