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[EU] Action plan for the development of EU organic production​

Introduction

The aim of this public consultation is to collect the opinion of stakeholders and the public on challenges and opportunities to increase the production and consumption of organic food. Your answers will feed into a European Commission communication to be published early in 2021. This communication will lay the ground for concrete action in line with the European Commission’s objectives of ensuring that at least 25% of the EU’s agricultural land is under organic farming by 2030 and that there is a significant increase in organic aquaculture. These objectives ultimately aim to both improve the sustainability of the food system and revert biodiversity loss.


Responses

Section 1: General – the state of organic production today

Organic production today covers some 8% of total utilized agricultural area and organic aquaculture accounts around 5% of total aquaculture production in the EU. Although this is a significant increase compared to the past, there is still significant room to increase these shares. The aim of this section is to identify the main bottlenecks to the production and consumption of organic food.

  1. To what extent are the following factors obstacles to greater production and consumption of organic food in the EU today?

at least 15 answered row(s)

 Strongly agreeSomewhat agreeSomewhat disagreeStrongly disagreeDon’t know
Retail price of organic products too highX    
Price of organic products at suppliers too high    X
Not profitable enough for producers X   
Too expensive for consumersX    
Insufficient consumer demandX    
Lack of consumer confidence in organic production methodsX    
Lack of consumer awareness of the EU label  X  
Lack of consumer confidence in the EU label   X 
Insufficient financial incentives for producers to convert to organic production    X
Low interest from retailers in giving organic products shelf-space  X  
Low consumer awareness of the benefits of organic production for climate and the environment   X 
Competition with other ways of producing and/or other schemes    X
Competition with private label products  X  
There are too many ecological food schemes that can be confused with organic   X 

Other (please specify):

For further explanations, we refer to our position paper.

  1. The COVID-19 crisis has had many significant impacts on different sectors, including on the food system and the production and consumption of organic food. To what extent do you agree with the following statements? 

at least 4 answered row(s)

 Strongly agreeSomewhat agreeSomewhat disagreeStrongly disagreeDon’t know
The crisis has strengthened organic farming and its role in EU food supply    X
The crisis has accelerated structural changes in our food consumption in favour of organic farming   X 
The crisis has shown our reliance on seasonal labour in farming X   
In the post-crisis period, the greater demand for organic products reported by the sector will be maintained    X

Section 2: Organic for all – stimulating demand and consumer confidence

Consumption of organic products per capita varies greatly among EU Member States. This section aims to identify concrete measures to stimulate the consumption of organic products and to ensure that consumers feel confident that the organic products they buy are produced according to such standards. 

  1. To what extent do you agree with the following statements?

at least 9 answered row(s)

 Strongly agreeSomewhat agreeSomewhat disagreeStrongly disagreeDon’t know
The EU organic logo is not sufficiently recognised  X  
Information campaigns for the EU organic logo are needed   X 
More awareness is needed on the environmental and climate benefits of organic farming   X 
Campaigns to promote agricultural products should specifically target organic products   X 
Price competitiveness of organic products should be improved    X
Schemes in schools to promote healthy diets should focus on organic products   X 
Food served in public/private offices and canteens should focus on organic products   X 
The range of organic products at retailers should be broader and more visible    X
Authorities should use much more public procurement to boost organic consumption   X 

Other (please specify): We would like to specify that our answer on the price competitiveness as “Don’t know” is due to the fact that the question did not elaborate on whether that refers to an intrusion on price competitiveness by producers and retailers or whether this should be done on an institutional governmental level.

For further explanations, we refer to our position paper.

  1. Demand for organic products also depends on consumer confidence that the products are produced in line with organic standards. To what extent do you agree that the following actions are important?

at least 7 answered row(s)

 Strongly agreeSomewhat agreeSomewhat disagreeStrongly disagreeDon’t know
Reasons for lack of consumer confidence should be explored X   
Consumers should be able to clearly distinguish between the EU organic logo and other environmental/quality schemesX    
It should be easier to trace organic products back to their origin X   
The information on organic producers should be transparent and available for consumersX    
Information technologies such as blockchain (data shared across a network of computers) should be used more often to improve tracing of organic productsX    
Compliance with the rules for organic production must be better controlled by public authoritiesX    
More effort is needed to tackle fraud in the organic sectorX    

Other (please specify):

For further explanations, we refer to our position paper.

Section 3: Promoting organic production

The share of land under organic farming varies considerably across EU Member States, ranging from some 2% in Romania to 24% in Austria. One reason for these differences could be the lack of structures in the supply chain to allow producers to benefit from the added value created by organic production. This section will help identify the main measures to: (i) stimulate conversion to organic agriculture and aquaculture and (ii) strengthen the value-chain for operators who have opted for organic production.  

  1. To what extent are the following measures important to stimulate the production of organic products?

at least 10 answered row(s)

 Strongly agreeSomewhat agreeSomewhat disagreeStrongly disagreeDon’t know
The EU’s Common Agricultural Policy and the support it provides should target organic production   X 
Other financial support for organic production is also needed (e.g. national, local or other public and private initiatives)   X 
Provide sufficient training and advice on organic farming (including visits and pilot farms) to stimulate conversion especially in regions lagging behind the EU average   X 
More research is needed to develop plants with greater resistance to pests and to extreme and variable climate conditionsX    
Investments (including in research and innovation) are needed to scale up labour-saving technologies    X
Improve information and data on developments in the organic market to facilitate decisions for producers    X
Improve information and data on developments in the organic market to support decision making for retailers    X
Help organic producers to better organise (e.g. producer organisations) to improve their bargaining power    X
Investments (including in research and innovation) for organic food processing   X 
Strengthen local and small-scale processing and foster short supply chains    X
  1. Organic animal husbandry must comply with higher standards than conventional animal husbandry. There are also higher standards for organic aquaculture. To what extent do you agree with the following statements? 

at least 4 answered row(s)

 Strongly agreeSomewhat agreeSomewhat disagreeStrongly disagreeDon’t know
Organic animal production should benefit from specific support   X 
Producers should be helped to find appropriate organic feed for animal nutrition   X 
More research is needed to identify and develop best practices on feeding methods suitable for organic feed, and alternative feeding ingredients X   
Aquaculture should be supported to gain more knowledge on breeding and feeding methods, including through research  X  

Section 4: Societal benefits – the contribution to climate and environment

One of the aims of organic farming is to combine agricultural production with respect for the environment and climate. It aims to preserve biodiversity, soil fertility, and aquatic ecosystems while allowing producers to make a decent living. This section will provide us with concrete ideas on how organic farming can be a model for: (i) more sustainable practices in farming and aquaculture, (ii) greater use of renewable resources, and (iii) greater animal welfare, while maintaining European food production.

  1. What are the main environmental advantages of organic production?

at least 8 answered row(s)

 Strongly agreeSomewhat agreeSomewhat disagreeStrongly disagreeDon’t know
Organic farming is beneficial to biodiversity   X 
It responsibly uses energy and natural resources, such as water   X 
It reduces leakage of nitrates into water and thus protects water quality   X 
It protects soil quality   X 
It helps reduce air pollution   X 
It promotes a circular economy by using bio-based materials   X 
It promotes carbon neutrality by reducing emissions of greenhouse gases and storing carbon in soil   X 
It allows for adaptation to a changing climate   X 
  1. To further increase the benefits of organic farming for the environment and climate, to what extent do you agree with the following measures?

at least 6 answered row(s)

 Strongly agreeSomewhat agreeSomewhat disagreeStrongly disagreeDon’t know
Funding to increase the availability of species suitable for organic production, notably through research   X 
More investment on organic agricultural research and innovation   X 
Networks of organic farms to act as demonstration projects and promote best practices    X
Phase out of contentious inputs (e.g. copper) still used in organic farmingX    
Promote the replacement of plastics in packaging with fully recyclable or biodegradable materials   X 
Promote the sustainable use of water in organic farming    X

Section 5: Conclusions – the role of the EU and the road ahead

The EU has actively promoted organic production as a pillar of its Common Agricultural Policy while also supporting the increase of organic aquaculture. However, local producers, national authorities and producer organisations also play an important role. This section will help us understand whether the EU should intensify its actions in favour of organic production and consumption, or whether these actions should be devolved to the national/local level. The final question provides you with an opportunity to present your own proposals for how the production and consumption of organic food can be strengthened, in addition to those proposals identified earlier in the questionnaire.

  1. To what extent do you agree with the following statements?

at least 3 answered row(s)

 Strongly agreeSomewhat agreeSomewhat disagreeStrongly disagreeDon’t know
The main responsibility for promoting organic production and consumption lies at national level    X
The development of organic production should be left to the market with no specific supportX    
The development of the organic sector requires a mix of EU and Member State support as well as private initiatives   X 
  1. Are there any more specific or additional actions that you would suggest?

For further explanations, we refer to our position paper:

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