45 000 responses have been submitted to the online questionnaire on the future of organic farming in Europe launched by the European Commission on 15 January. The three month long consultation ended. 96% of the contributions are from citizens. In addition, about 1600 free contributions from citizens, associations, public authorities or companies have been received.
All answers and contributions will now be analysed to feed the ongoing review of the political and legal framework for organic agriculture in Europe, which aims at defining legislative and political orientations for organic farming for the future. Opening a meeting of the enlarged Advisory Group on Organic Farming, a stakeholders group, Dacian Cioloş, European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development said: “this success demonstrates that citizens have high expectations for organic agriculture. The organic sector is at a crossroads, facing important decisions for its future. Citizens increasingly see it as a benchmark for sustainable production and this provides real scope for the sector’s growth. The challenge will be to meet the demand without losing the value of the sector and the level of standards but strengthening the link of trust with consumers”.
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.
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.
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?