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Organic Farming - Looking Forwards

At the launch event at the BMEL in Berlin, German Agriculture Minister Christian Schmidt kicked-off the development of the new strategy: "Organic Farming - Looking Forwards".

"The organic farming sector already makes an important contribution to our food! I would like to take full advantage of its potential!" Schmidt emphasised. "In order to do so we need to work together and have a well-thought-out plan. This is what we hope to set in motion at the launch event."

Alongside representatives from the organic farming sector and with the involvement of the Länder, the relevant associations and science, the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture aims to draw up concepts and recommendations for key areas of action as part of the strategy. It hopes to present this strategy for the future by the end of 2016.

Objectives

The objective of the Organic Farming - Looking Forwards strategy is to contribute to strengthening organic farming in Germany and to expand the total area of land used for or-ganic farming purposes. This means that in developing the strategy, political parameters are also to be analysed and strategies are to be developed to improve the relative quality of particularly sustainable production methods such as organic farming. In particular, strengthening the range of regional organic goods is intended to open up business development opportunities for the future for small and medium-sized agricultural enterprises too.

Starting point:

With a turnover of nearly 8 billion Euro in 2014, Germany's organic food market is the largest in Europe. Over the past 20 years the market volume of organic products expanded at a growth rate well above average in comparison to the food market as a whole. Despite considerable funding from the EU, the Federal Government and the Länder, German producers were, however, unable to share in this boom to the same extent. This has meant that despite relatively favourable market conditions, organic produce growth has slowed notably in the last few years. Whilst turnover for organic produce since 2011 has grown every year by between five and nine percent, the increase in land area used for this type of farming in the last four years was only one to three percent.

"It is our objective to make sure our agricultural sector is best placed to harness this potential fully. Not only for our economic interests but also in particular in the interest of sustainable management of our resources," Schmidt stressed. "We policy makers consider the organic sector to be important. Just like conventional farming. We don't want them to work against each other but want to encourage competition between alternatives instead."

Course of action

Various scientific studies in recent years have shown that there is no central determining factor for more growth in German organic farming. In light of the complex interdependent relationships it is necessary for key areas of action to be interconnected within a coherent overall strategy.

Picking these areas of action is to be pragmatically orientated around the key question "What can be done, particularly at national level?", without pushing other approaches aside. The focus should be on proposals that lead to more growth in organic farming and which improve organic farming's sustainability performance.

The specific, operative plan of action set out in the forward-looking strategy will finally be transferred to a "road map" with concrete work and implementation stages. Since the strategy is modular, it will be possible, if required, to use interim results to implement certain recom-mendations before the whole strategy has been concluded.

Implementation

The BMEL has assigned the Thünen Institute the task of coordinating and implementing the strategy's development. This includes in particular overseeing the various work stages, facilitating the discussion process as well as collating working groups' consultation results into recommendations for plans of action and coordinating these with the stakeholders.

The plans of action will be drawn up in close consultation with an advisory committee, whose members will be the same the as advisory committee for the Federal Scheme for Organic Farming and other Forms of Sustainable Argriculture (BÖLN). The task of this advisory committee is to comment on interim results, give suggestions regarding how to proceed, and incorporating industry expertise and perspectives.

As of:
19.05.15

Further information

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