Clear direction and concrete options will be needed for farmers in order to reach the 25% target of organic land under the Farm to Fork strategy, Copa-Cogeca has said.
The body representing farmers and co-ops in the EU has released a position paper on the three axes of the strategy, giving its thoughts on the way forward.
“Organic farming has been constantly growing for the last decade (62% in 10 years), from 8.5m hectares in 2010 to 13.8m hectares in 2019. Meanwhile, EU consumers have been increasingly interested in this method of production.
“Still, the current EU farmland devoted to organic farming is at 8.5%, far from the ambitious target of 25% presented in the Farm to Fork strategy. Even if the target to be reached in nine years is very ambitious, there are ways to improve the share of organic farming in a system that must remain market driven, as is the case in the Commission's proposal,” it said.
For Copa-Cogeca, it said the promotion of organic farming and its EU logo will be an important part of the strategy and believes that the organic sector should be supported by the promotion policy to a certain extent, even above its market share.
“However, if we truly want to ensure a healthy growth of the sector, we will need to ensure that the development of the European market is not heavily affected by increasing competition from non-EU products, while the CAP should focus its support on the transition process,” it said.
On the livestock side, the body said a major obstacle in the transition remains the lack of organic feed sourced in Europe.
“There is a clear and strong need to increase the production of European organic protein feed if we want to support the conventional livestock sector’s conversion to organic. Organic protein feed is not only a question of quantity, but also of quality.
“Boosting the production of high-quality organic protein feed to reduce European dependence on non-European imports of organic proteins will offer interesting opportunities,” it said.
European organic farmers and agri-cooperatives need to have the proper toolbox to protect crops and harvests from environmental changes, the body warned.
“To reach the 25% of organic farming, research and innovation will have to be increased and serious discussions will have to take place on both seeds and plant protection,” it said.