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Organic farming and production play a significant economic role in the EU’s agricultural landscape. They can provide a market-oriented alternative for agricultural producers wishing to respond to the increasing demand for high-quality, eco-friendly products. In this consultation, the European Commission would like your views on how organic farming should be best developed.

– The Public Consultation is available on the website of the European Commission

Background – organic farming in the EU

Under the common agricultural policy, organic production is supported by European financial support, policies and laws. This approach is designed to bolster consumer confidence while creating the conditions for fair competition among organic producers in the 27 EU countries. The rules for organic production are set out in Council Regulation No 834/2007 and Commission Regulation No 889/2008 .

Organic farming covers a relatively limited part of the EU’s utilised agricultural area – around 5% – but the sector is driven by ever-increasing consumer demand. In the current economic downturn, will consumers continue to turn towards a more sustainable lifestyle and higher consumption of organic products?

Key issues:

  • simplifying the legal framework – while ensuring standards are not watered down
  • co-existence of GM crops with organic farming
  • better control systems and trade arrangements for organic products
  • impact of the new labelling rules (especially the now obligatory use of the European logo on all EU-produced organic products – has this given organic products more visibility?)

Other issues:

  • Action plan – in 2004, the Commission launched an action plan to develop organic farming in Europe, which gave further impetus to the sector. This consultation is also an opportunity to find out from the public in which areas they think a new action plan might be needed.
  • Controls – for the sector to develop, it is essential to guarantee its integrity. Some recent cases of fraud suggest the need to reinforce controls and enforce the rules more tightly.
  • Imports – an import regime has been set up to regulate the growing international trade in organic products. Because of the fast pace of this market development, shortcomings have to be addressed to ensure the smooth functioning of our organic trade in the future.

See also the Commission report on the application of current rules for organic farming

Ouest-France article about the consultation in French

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