The European Commission has set out a comprehensive organic action plan for the European Union. Through the action plan, the Commission will aim to achieve the European Green Deal target of 25% of agricultural land under organic farming by 2030.
The new organic action plan builds upon the achievements of the 2014-20 action plan and takes into account the outcome of a public consultation on organics, held between September and November 2020.
The action plan is broken into three interlinked axes that reflect the structure of the food supply chain and ambitions of the Green Deal sustainability objectives:
Axis 1: stimulate demand and ensure consumer trust
Increasing the consumption of organic products and strengthening consumers’ trust in organic products are vital elements in encouraging farmers to convert to organics. To support continued growth and maintain profitable market for organic operators, the Commission will undertake actions to:
promote organic farming and the EU logo;
promote organic canteens and increase the use of green public procurement;
reinforce organic school schemes;
prevent food fraud and strengthen consumer trust;
facilitate contribution of private sector.
Axis 2: stimulate conversion and reinforce the entire value chain
In order to increase the share of land being farmed under organic practices, further development is needed along all stages of the supply chain. Adequate structures must be put in place to encourage local production and short distribution channels, which would enable farmers to benefit fully from the added value of organic produce.
To continue progress in production and processing, the action plan will:
encourage conversion, investments and exchanges of best practices;
develop sector analysis to increase market transparency;
support the organisation of the food chain;
reinforce local and small-value processing and fostering short trade circuit;
improve animal nutrition in accordance with organic rules;
reinforce organic aquaculture.
Axis 3: organics leading by example: improve the contribution of organic farming to environmental sustainability
Organic farming contributes to the protection of the environment and the climate, the long-term fertility of the soil, high levels of biodiversity, a non-toxic environment and high animal welfare standards.
it is important to explore new and improved ways for organic farming to lessen its environmental impact. The Commission will further improve the organic sector’s contribution to sustainability and environmental challenges through actions focused on:
reducing climate and environmental footprint;
enhancing genetic biodiversity and increasing yields;
developing alternatives to contentious inputs and other plant protection products;
enhancing animal welfare;
making more efficient use of resources.
The three axes will be supported by 23 actions, continuing some of the successful 2014-20 actions, as well as putting forward an array of new actions and mobilising different sources of funding.
To further boost consumption, the action plan emphasizes the importance of communicating about organic farming and its benefits and includes actions such as EU promotion campaigns or strengthening the fight against fraudulent practices, as well as improving traceability.
The Commission will also support research and innovation, for example to improve animal nutrition in accordance with organic rules.
As ECOPNET, we strongly advise our partners to closely follow the new action plan since this action plan has an impact on different areas. For example, organic production is one of the crucial aspects to achieve the European Green Deal. Also, with this action plan, small producers will be able to find an outlet for their production. In addition, it will create opportunities for organised and efficient supply chains for organic products. In our Green Deal and Circular Economy Woring Groups, we keep our interested partners informed on the latest development of organic production. We can also help you to create a network where you can find the right people if you have a research or innovation idea to support organic production in EU.
Stronger support in the new common agricultural policy
The common agricultural policy (CAP) will be mobilised fully to support the implementation of the action plan. Financial support for organics will continue to be offered through rural development commitments, with an additional stream of funding made available through eco-schemes. CAP support will also include technical assistance and the exchange of best practices and innovations in organics. Farm advisory services will be strengthened, notably as part of Agricultural Knowledge and Innovation Systems (AKIS), to promote relevant knowledge exchange.
Focus on Research and Innovation
Organic farming is knowledge-intensive. However, there is still a clear need to enhance further the knowledge so that organic farming can become even more sustainable and also more productive. To support the ambitions of the action plan, the Commission intends to dedicate at least 30% of the budget for research and innovation actions in the field of agriculture, forestry and rural areas to topics specific to or relevant for the organic sector, such as increased crop yields, genetic biodiversity and alternatives to contentious products.
Source: European Commission Press Corner