German agricultural reform plans ‘endanger’ goal of organic farming –

For organic farmers, Germany’s plans to implement EU agricultural reform run counter to the 30 percent organic farming target set by the new coalition government. EURACTIV Germany reports.

On Friday 17 December, the Bundesrat, the upper house of the German parliament, adopted the final details on how the reform of the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) will be implemented in Germany. He had tied his approval of the corresponding regulations to several conditions – among others, on organic farming.

“Currently, Germany’s agricultural reform implementation plans are jeopardizing the 30% organic target,” Tina Andres, chairwoman of the Russian Federation’s board of directors, told EURACTIV Germany. organic food industry (BÖLW).

In the coalition agreement, the parties of the “traffic light” coalition – the Social Democratic SPD, the Greens and the liberal FDP – set the target that 30% of agricultural land be cultivated organically by now. the end of the decade to the last.

However, the measures currently planned as part of agricultural reform would put organic farms in a worse position “instead of offering good prospects for farms,” ​​said Andres.

Federal states have called on the government to ensure that all farms can participate in so-called eco-programs designed to encourage farmers to adopt environmentally friendly practices.

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Less than a fifth of the eco-programs, designed to reward environmentally conscious farmers in the EU, are likely to meet their stated environmental goals, according to a new report from leading European NGOs which analyzes states’ green plans members for the agricultural sector.

No downside for organic farms

In addition to farms with pasture, a sufficient range of organic programs must be guaranteed, especially for organic farms, the Bundesrat said in its resolution.

But critics say the envisaged catalog of measures, which will see the implementation of farms supported through eco-programs, offers little opportunity for organic farms to receive support for organic farming activities already implemented.

“The fact that organic farms are put in a worse position than their conventional colleagues when they voluntarily want to do more for the environment should absolutely not happen,” said Andres. She added that federal and state governments must now shape the national strategic plan to meet the 30 percent target.

At 30 percent, the traffic light coalition sets the goal of a significantly higher organic share than the previous government, which had targeted 20 percent by 2030. The goal at scale of the EU, defined in the farm-to-fork strategy, is 25 percent.

The ambition of the coalition was welcomed by Priska Hinz, Minister of Agriculture and Environment of the Land of Hesse, who played a leading role in the negotiation of the agricultural chapter of the coalition agreement for the Green.

“For healthy soils and clean streams and rivers, the expansion of organic farming is very important,” she told EURACTIV Germany. With the objective raised, the new coalition agreement also gives the “necessary incentives” to the various federal states to increase the share of organic farming.

However, Alexander Beck, executive director of the Association of Organic Food Producers (AÖL) believes that the increased target for organic farming should above all be seen as a declaration of intent. It is difficult to predict whether the 30% mark can actually be reached by 2030, he said.

To grow, the sector needs “evolutionary development”. Producers should switch to organic production, while consumers should “go this route,” he told EURACTIV Germany. “These are all processes that, of course, take time. “

Wide range of measures

Still, Beck hailed the coalition’s intention to focus more on trade, distribution, the consumer side and the producer side when promoting the organic sector.

According to the coalition agreement, the new government wants to extend the future organic farming strategy to the entire organic value chain. Former Agriculture Minister Julia Klöckner adopted a strategy earlier this year to consolidate measures to promote organic farming.

While it always depends on the exact design, extending the strategy is the right approach, according to Beck. “This is of course the right angle to say: it is not just an agricultural problem, but a problem for the whole food system,” he added.

The coalition agreement also provides for more funding from the federal budget for research into organic agriculture.

Overall, a wide range of measures are needed to effectively promote the organic sector, Beck said – from education and training on nutrition issues to tax incentives.

“Jotting down every measure needed would certainly fill a library,” said Andres of BÖLW, adding that the 30% mark is “ambitious”, but important for “systemic change on the scale desired”.

[Edited by Alice Taylor]

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