Organic farming has been constantly growing for the last decade (62% in ten years), from 8.5 million hectares in 2010 to 13.8 million hectares in 2019. Meanwhile EU consumers have been increasingly interested in this method of production. In this regard, we noticed that COVID-19 certainly reinforced this trend. 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.
Copa and Cogeca have constantly asked for a market driven approach, as it will be the best way to ensure a healthy growth for the sector. Ensuring organic farming market profitability, securing the necessary investments and a fairer farmers' share of the consumer euro would be crucial. This is why we welcome the market driven strategy of the Action Plan.
For Lone Andersen, Chairwoman of the organic Working Party at Copa-Cogeca, "The approach considered by the EU Commission will prove to be the most sustainable one. Although the 25% target is very ambitious and even if this target is to be met in less than nine years, Copa and Cogeca are looking forward to closely collaborating with the Commission, Council and the European Parliament, as well as with all stakeholders in the sector, to guarantee that we get as close as possible to this objective while avoiding market disturbances. In this regard I welcome the extension of the EU Market Observatories' analysis to organic products."
Another important aspect outlined in the Action plan is the strengthening of animal nutrition inputs in accordance with organic rules. Organic farmers have been suffering from a shortage of organic B-vitamins for ruminants and within feeds for animals in general, for several years. COVID-19 and its slackened trade relations have demonstrated how it is important for farmers to have access to inputs at a reasonable price. Through research and innovation, investments and new products being available (i.e. processed animal proteins like insects and algae), Copa and Cogeca believe an enhancement of affordable and available set of new feeds will be placed in the farmer toolbox.
Regarding inputs, it is also very important to continue and improve the special tie between organic farmers and environment. Land that is farmed organically is free from chemical products with substantial additional benefits for the environment and biodiversity. However, organic farmers have to face pests and climate change consequences. Without proper defensive instruments, it will become impossible for us to harvest good and healthy products. With the growing share of organic, the spread diseases and weeds will require even more precise monitoring. Therefore, it is essential for organic farmers to have access to an efficient set of products to protect crops. Copa and Cogeca seek to support the Commission's work on further developing policies and regulatory framework, as well as research and innovation needed to ensure that EU farmers and agri-cooperatives have a proper set of instruments to be used.
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