Last March, the European Commission (the organism in charge of designing the implementation of the EU’s policies) presented a 22-page Action Plan for the attainment of one of the most formidable goals that the Union has set to itself: transforming a quarter of its agricultural land to organic farming methods. It seeks to do so along three main lines: boosting consumption (while maintaining consumer trust on the organic label), increasing production, and taking steps to ensure the sustainability of the sector’s growth, so that the 25% mark is reached once and for good.
Even though the EU is not going against the grain on this, with the current trend of growth already predicting a 15% of the total agricultural land being organic by 2030, the aim of the European Commission is to boost this existing market trend with official support. The online version of the Action Plan offers a number of key measures, including:
On the demand side, the beginning of massive campaigns in favor of organic consumption and the creation of a European database of organic-certified producers, which aims to ensure consumer trust in the EU organic logo.
On the supply side, an increase in the EU resources devoted to supporting organic farming in technical and financial ways, a reduction of the red tape around obtaining organic certifications for producers, boosting local structures for production and consumption within an area (instead or organic products having to travel widely throughout the EU to be sold) and, particularly, helping farmers who are beginning to get into organic agriculture or are interested in transitioning become a part of the value chain.
On the sustainability issue, the Plan outlines a general ecologically sustainable approach as the basis of the sustainability of organic farming itself, in which organic farming is made economically sustainable due to it being ecologically sustainable, as the costs of ecological unsustainability begin to catch up with regular methods of farming. Increasing efficiency and yields in organic production, as well as animal welfare, are other parts of the sustainability section of the Action Plan.
Trust in the European Certified Organic label might be the spearhead of the industry's growth – as well as one of its main liabilities.
A lot of this work will be devoted towards equalizing the status of organic farming across EU members, some of which have an organic land use as low as 0.5% of the total, and some of which have well over 25% of their total land devoted to organic agriculture. The question remaining would be, will it work? Is the EU doing enough to truly be on its way to reaching its organic goals by 2030? According to one of the main advisors for the European Commission, Diego Canga Fano, it might be, if it manages to equalize organic production throughout the EU and ensure that the European organic logo remains a trusted symbol for consumers.