Action Plan for Organic Production

April 14th, 2021
16:45 – 19:00

Commissioner Wojciechowski was physically present at the Agricultural Committee in the European Parliament to present and discuss with MEPs the Commission’s action plan on organic farming, defined as one of the most important task in his mandate. Both Biodiversity and the Farm to Fork (FTF) strategies aim at reaching 25% of agricultural land under organic farming by 2030, as well as a sustainable aquaculture. He said that this farming practice is beneficial for the environment and for the animal welfare due to the foreseen reduction in the use of chemical pesticides, fertilizers, and antimicrobials. At current levels, only 8% of EU land is under organic farming, and forecasts say that following this peace, the EU would “naturally” reach 15% by 2030. Therefore, there is need for the Commission to boost this sector. Wojciechowski acknowledged that MS start from different points. Thanks to this action plan, the Commission identifies the tools and the actions to get there. At the same time, the new Organic regulation that will enter into force next year will provide legal stability and predictability, availability of financial resources under new CAP and Horizon programmes.
The Commissioner stressed that it has been developed a wide range approach thatfocuses on citizen’s demand and consumption, production and sustainability, and it covers the whole value chain (farmers, processors, wholesalers, canteen, etc). He also noted that this action plan is demand-consumption driven, and that farmers will not make the transition if there is no demand to support it.

For the financial aspect, the Farm Commissioner explained that the action plan foresees to use the CAP funding, together with some of the Horizon Europe programming funds. The CAP financing will be particularly useful to support the second target of the action plan on “Stimulating conversion & reinforcing the entire value-chain”. More specifically, the eco-schemes and the measures under the second pillar will provide the necessary tools to address financing. Moreover, technical assistance and exchange of best practices, together with farm advisory services will be strengthened.
Lastly, the plan sees a better use of natural resources towards increased sustainability: it will be incentivized the reduction of the use of plastic, energy, and order to do that, knowledge and research should be enhanced. The focus on R&I plans to dedicate at least 30% of the budget to research on organic agriculture and forestry.

MEPs had the chance to take the floor and share their views on the Commission’s action and advanced their questions to the Commissioner.
A wide majority of MEPs stressed their concerns on the lack of actual demand(Dorfmann, De Castro, Müller, Lebreton, Jurgiel, Sander, Aguilera, Sarvamaa): if the Commission is going to artificially stimulate the production of products that risk not to be bought because of a lack of demand, then resources will be wasted, imports from third countries will increase, and, eventually, the market-oriented approach of the EU agricultural policy distorted.

Another shared concern voiced by many MEPs concerned the financing of the plan: they pointed out that the funds dedicated to the CAP is limited in resources and doubted on finding new resources.

Several MEPs also wondered why the Commission is focusing the majority of the efforts toward the support of organic farming to reach increased sustainability, while there are also other farming methods, including the conventional one, that can lead more easily to the same target.

Dorfmann (EPP) put the focus on the processing, stating that we need to take account of this part of the production chain and expand it in order to use more organic.

De Castro (S&D) noted that the action should focus on understanding how people make grocery choices and improve the information and transparency towards consumers. In this way, consumers will not only look at the price but will understand the whole process where the product comes from (Katainen -RE- and Aguilera -S&D- also supported this point). He also touched on the risk of importing organic products from abroad.

Müller (Renew) asked if the 25% is a purely indicative goal, and to give some concrete ground on which this percentage was defined? Also, she asked to give examples of best practices.

Schneider (EPP), together with Lizzi (ID), wondered how the Commission would deal with the consequences on prices of agri-food products.

Huitema (RE) advocated for a continuation of the performance-based model, so not to force the market.