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Support of organic farming: need for a comprehensive development strategy

New study on support of organic farming in the EU published

For more than 20 years, organic farming has been a focus of politics. In the meantime numerous support programmes are available at regional, national and European level.

However, a comprehensive development and support strategy, coordinated with other relevant policy fields, is lacking in many European countries. This is a key result of a report recently published by the EU Commission. The underlying study, carried out by the German Thünen Institute in cooperation with the Research Institute of Organic Farming (FIBL) and the Organic Research Center (ORC) on behalf of the EU Commission, considers the relationship between support policy, support strategy and the development of organic farming and provides a comprehensive review of the public support measures in place for organic farming in all 27 EU Member States.

A coherent overall strategy can contribute decisively to the sustainable expansion of organic farming. Here it is not only the level and number of support measures that play an important role. The influence of other policy areas that do not directly address organic farming, such as energy and sustainability policy, is also of great significance.

For example, subsidies for bio-energy, particularly positive for conventional farming, can reduce the incentive effect of conversion payments and thus may have a negative effect on the expansion of organic farming. In those countries with a coherent support policy, support for organic farming is a central element of the national agricultural policy to strengthen the sustainability of agriculture and improve the competitiveness of the agricultural sector.

Against this background, the question arises on how the EU Commission can support Member States in developing a coherent overall strategy. The authors of this study see a possibility in the development of common organic sector development principles. These could be integrated into the future Rural Development Framework. The agreed-upon principles could also be used directly by the individual Member States to develop suitable support strategies.

The study report “Use and efficiency of public support measures addressing organic farming” can be found on the web site of the EU Commission at:

Dr. Michael Welling | vTI
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