New Plans for European Organic Farming

EU - Maintaining consumer confidence, maintaining producer confidence and making it easier for farmers to switch to organics are the main objectives of a new EU Regulation on organic production and the labelling of organic products.
calendar icon 1 April 2014
clock icon 4 minute read

The aim is that organic farming remains close to its principles and objectives, so that public demands in terms of environment and quality are met.

The Commission proposes in particular:

  • to strengthen and harmonise rules, both in the European Union and for imported products, by removing many of the current exceptions in terms of production and controls
  • to reinforce controls by making them risk-based
  • to make it easier for small farmers to join organic farming by introducing the possibility for them to sign up to a group certification system
  • to address better the international dimension of trade in organic products with the addition of new provisions on exports and finally
  • to simplify the legislation to reduce administrative costs for farmers and improve transparency.

To help organic farmers, producers and retailers adjust to the proposed policy changes and meet future challenges, the Commission has also approved an Action Plan on the future of Organic Production in Europe.

The Plan foresees to better inform farmers on rural development and EU farm policy initiatives encouraging organic farming, to strengthen links between EU research and innovation projects and organic production and to encourage the use of organic food, such as in schools.

The Commission said consumer and producer concerns are at the heart of the new proposal, which seeks to address shortcomings of the current system.

Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Dacian Ciolos, said: "The future of the organic sector in the EU depends on the quality and integrity of the products sold under the European organic logo.

“The Commission is looking for more and better organic farming in the EU by consolidating consumer confidence in organic products and removing obstacles to the development of organic agriculture.

“This package is good for consumers and good for farmers.

“Consumers will have better guarantees on organic food made and sold in the EU and farmers, producers and retailers will have access to a larger market, both within and outside the EU.”

European farming organisation Copa-Cogeca stressed that the new proposals must be based on the success of current EU legislation and must allow EU organic production to continue to develop.
The EU organic sector is one of the fast growing agricultural sectors.

It has quadrupled in size over the last 10 years and rules need to be updated and adjusted so that the sector can further develop and respond to future challenges.

Copa-Cogeca Secretary-General Pekka Pesonen said: “The new rules must let production continue to develop, whilst supporting the growth of the organic market, using the right tools. In particular, the rules must not discourage new farmers from converting into organic farming nor existing organic farmers to continue production.”

He added: “For example, in many regions, farms often convert into organic farming in a series of stages, for various reasons, like economic or structural reasons. Without the ability to adapt gradually to organic production, it will put the breaks on the development of the sector.

“We would also like to highlight that organic farming is a holistic production system based on a specific management of natural resources, which puts strict limits on the use of chemical and synthetic inputs, and which prohibits the use of genetically modified organisms.

“Organic farming is a global production method that needs extra requirements, especially on animal welfare and the preservation of the environment.

“The production process must therefore be looked at as a whole and not just the final product. That is why it is of the utmost importance that controls remain process-oriented.”

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