Review of events

Discussing Organic Farm Knowledge: learning from users how the online platform can be improved

6 July 2020, online

On 6 July, IFOAM Organics Europe held a successful digital cross-exchange about the online platform Organic Farm Knowledge as an exemplary online knowledge platform. The webinar took place within the framework of the Horizon 2020 EURAKNOS project. It was attended by 24 participants from different European countries and beyond, mostly advisors and researchers. It served to discuss how the platform can be improved.

The discussion zoomed in on four topics, starting with: “How to improve the user experience & navigation? How should the user interface look like?” Next, participants talked about improving the discussion forum and integrating it with social media. It turned out that the preference largely depends on the country. Twitter for example is widely used in Italy, Spain and the UK whereas in Hungary and Bulgaria, Facebook is the platform of choice. Similarly, the preference depends on the target audience. Farmers could find the website too complicated and would prefer Facebook or a mobile app in the national language.

The third topic centred on the funding model. Participants largely agreed that the platform should remain free (i.e. open access) to be widely known and used. However, new knowledge produced can be used for online courses, trainings, webinars, etc. for which a fee could be charged. Research projects could be asked to pay a fee to have their content on the platform.

Finally, the channels to promote the platform were discussed. Promoting the platform locally, through national organic associations and research networks (their website, magazine, newsletter etc.), turned out to be key. Visit the Organic Farm Knowledge platform on organic-farmknowledge.org or contact [email protected].

Organic Farm Knowledge is a product of OK-Net Arable and OK-Net EcoFeed. These projects have received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreements No. 652654 and No. 773911 respectively. The information contained within this platform only reflects the author’s view. The Research Executive Agency is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information provided. EURAKNOS has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 817863.

Lively exchange at the second EUREKA consortium meeting

26-28 August 2020, online

IFOAM Organics Europe participated in the second EUREKA consortium meeting, which took place online from 26-28 August and brought together all the partners to exchange about the progress and look ahead.

EUREKA is the sister project of EURAKNOS and aims to promote wide and long-term use of the practical knowledge and innovative solutions of Horizon 2020 multi-actor projects by farmers, foresters and other rural businesses. After an extensive mapping of existing multi-actor projects and review of the knowledge and data they generated, the most useful outputs will be selected. These will be included in a new, centralised, and open-source database (“FarmBook”). The content of this easily accessible and searchable platform should fit the needs of the end users (farmers, advisors, policymakers and researchers).

Visit the EUREKA website and subscribe to the newsletter for project updates and related news and stories. The EUREKA project is an EU-funded action that aims to help ensure the longer-term and wider use by farmers, foresters and other rural businesses of the practical knowledge and innovative solutions that are generated by Horizon 2020 multi-actor projects. IFOAM Organics Europe’s role in the project is to make sure that the future FarmBook suits the needs of the organic actors, and to engage the organic sector in its development.

EUREKA has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 862790.

Representing environmentally-friendly farmers at the Commission’s ‘Farmers of the Future’ workshop

1-2 September 2020, online

What will agriculture look like in 2050? How can we ensure that enough food is produced, while ensuring that environment and climate are not harmed by it? Important questions like these are getting asked more and more and long have found its way on high-level political agendas. What might be easily overlooked however, is the question about the farmers themselves: What will their role be? What will their profile look like? What difficulties could they meet and what would be their needs to successfully face them?

An almost finished study by the Joint Research Center and the European Commission’s Directorate General for Agriculture (DG AGRI) seeks to address exactly that. Using a participatory approach hey developed twelve different farmer profiles for the year 2040. These profiles range from adaptive to corporate, intensive, cell, regenerative, and so on. Positively noted was the fact that organic and agroecological principles often was mentioned as their applied “environmental approach”.

For the last workshop during the study, IFOAM Organics Europe was invited 1 and 2 September as one of a few stakeholders to slip into the shoes of these imagined farmers, identify their needs and possible collaborations, and think about possible policy approaches to support them. We pointed out the need to adapt and better tailor the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) to farmers’ needs, as currently there is a significant disconnect, especially when it comes to environmentally friendly farmers. These can mainly be found in the younger age group, but currently only ~6% of EU farmers are under 35 years old. IFOAM Organics Europe further stressed that need to increase their support. This includes ensuring easier access to land, which is also indirectly hampered by the CAP.

Smaller, greener, healthier? Sustainability of livestock farming in Europe

9 September 2020, online

On Wednesday 9 September, Kurt Sannen, Chair of IFOAM Organics Europe’s Interest Group of Organic Farmers, participated in the online debate “Smaller, greener, healthier? Sustainability of livestock farming in Europe” organized by AnimalHealthEurope. The aim of the meeting was to discuss the implications of the Farm to Fork Strategy for the European livestock sector, and how this sector can deliver on sustainability demands.

After an introduction by Health & Food Safety Commissioner Stella Kyriakides underlining the need to reduce antimicrobials, Kurt Sannen presented the organic model and its potential to inspire European farmers. He explained that the question should not be how to produce more, but rather how to produce sufficient nutritious food in a sustainable way. Kurt gave inspiring examples from his own organic farm Bolhuis, in Diest (Flanders, Belgium).

Kurt also reminded that the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) must provide the necessary remuneration for the benefits of organic conversion and maintenance through existing rural development policies or innovative tools like eco-schemes.

Read more in AnimalhealthEurope press release.

Learn more about IFOAM Organics Europe’s interest groups. Are you an organic farmer who is interested in being part of IFOAM Organics Europe’s Interest Group of Organic Farmers? Contact [email protected].

EIP-AGRI Seminar “CAP Strategic Plans: the key role of AKIS in Member States”

16-18 September, online

From 16-18 September, the European Innovation Partnership (EIP-AGRI) held an online seminar about the development of Agricultural Knowledge and Innovation Systems (AKIS) as part of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) Strategic Plans post 2020. The seminar was organised together with the European Commission’s Directorate General for Agriculture and Rural Development (DG AGRI) and attended by over 150 participants.

IFOAM Organics Europe provided input on the discussion topics beforehand and participated in the three-day seminar. To achieve the Farm to Fork targets, including 25% organic land in Europe by 2030, it is crucial that the CAP Strategic Plans make the link to the European Green Deal and the Farm to Fork strategy of the European Commission. The EIP-AGRI network will be part of the single European CAP Network. It was stressed repeatedly throughout the seminar that the European Commission wants to combine CAP and Horizon Europe objectives, systematically interlinking people and projects.

IFOAM Organics Europe calls on Member States to introduce a national target for organic land in their CAP Strategic Plans, to describe the relevant policy mix to increase production and demand for organic products and to ensure independent and well-funded AKIS, geared towards agroecology. Participatory methodologies which empower and engage all potential AKIS actors are key to co-design a common understanding and vision. All types of farming should be represented in the AKIS coordination body, including organic farming, in particular with regards to the 25% organic farmland target of the Farm to Fork strategy.

The participants of the seminar largely agreed that the main benefit of well-functioning AKIS lies in developing more holistic solutions for farmers, and that the future role of advisors consists in giving holistic advice according to farmers’ needs, while picking up good ideas and opportunities. Likewise, advisors can build the bridge between CAP and Horizon Europe as innovation support services. The seminar provided concrete examples from different European countries and also introduced the EURAKNOS and EUREKA projects that are making the increasing volume of practice-oriented agricultural knowledge easily accessible, interactive and attractive. IFOAM Organics Europe is a partner in both projects. Presentations will be available on the event webpage.

Launch of the Green Deal call at the European Research & Innovation Days 2020

22-24 September, online

From 22-24 September, the European Research and Innovation Days, the European Commission’s annual flagship event, brought together policymakers, researchers, entrepreneurs, and the public online to debate and shape the future of research and innovation in Europe.

TP Organics participated in the policy conference. A session on ‘Building a post-Covid food system economy’ showed that most participants view the inclusion of environmental externalities in food prices as the most transformative action. True cost accounting is also a priority of IFOAM Organics Europe. In the session on the Mission area: Soil health and food with organic farmer Alfred Grand, it was highlighted that cooperation across sectors and citizen engagement as well as co-implementation will be at the core of the mission. Living labs will create knowledge and design, test and disseminate innovative solutions while lighthouse farms will test and demonstrate good practices. Soil health is the starting point for systemic transformations across value chains and territories.

The event also provided the possibility to learn more about the new Horizon 2020 call on the European Green Deal. With a budget of 1 EUR billion, the Green Deal call will fund research & innovation projects in 8 thematic areas. Area 6, Farm to Fork makes a reference to organic: “The Farm to Fork Strategy, which is at the heart of the European Green Deal, […] requires and builds on innovative solutions that can be scaled up, such as agro-ecological and organic practices […].”

Read the full call for proposals on the European Commission’s website. Deadline for submissions is 26 January 2021. The projects selected for funding are expected to start in autumn 2021. Report of the Mission Board “Caring for soil is caring for life”.

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