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Schmidt: "We must proceed with the necessary care"

Speaking at a meeting of the EU Agriculture Council in Brussels on Monday, the Federal Minister of Agriculture spoke out against hasty decisions being taken at the expense of the organic farming sector.

Following the negotiations on the future of European legislation governing organic farming, Federal Agriculture Minister Christian Schmidt welcomed the fact that the Agriculture Council intended to devote more time to discussing the Commission proposals in greater detail - if the Commission is still committed to these proposals at all.

"We will only achieve improvements for the organic sector if we proceed with the necessary care. He added that the Council was right not to wrap up the revision of the EC Organic Farming Regulation in individual sub-areas until all matters had been discussed. I still think that the Commission proposal points in the wrong direction in many respects," Schmidt said in Brussels on Monday. He thanked the new EU Commissioner Phil Hogan saying that Hogan has introduced "a new spirit" to this dossier.

During the intensive deliberations in recent months, Schmidt had stressed throughout that he endorsed a targeted development of the organic farming legislation and the remedying of weak points. Schmidt went on to say that the new regime must not, however, result in farms backing out of organic farming by the dozen as a result of excessive demands. In the guidance document that the European Agriculture Ministers have now adopted in Brussels they set out objectives on many important points that will form the starting-point of discussions in the months to come. "The document adopted today forms a good basis for us to continue our in-depth discussions on the specific regulatory content of the Regulation and to explore robust and practical solutions," said Schmidt.

Commenting on reports from Brussels that the revision of the EC Organic Farming Regulation was on a Commission list of projects that should, due to the cutting of red tape, be discontinued or radically modified, Federal Minister Schmidt said: "I have repeatedly stressed that I prefer a problem-oriented development of the existing system rather than a complete revision," and went on to say that it remained to be seen whether the Commission would draw a similar conclusion. Schmidt also stated that he was, in any event, very pleased to note that Agriculture Commissioner Hogan took the Member States' concerns very seriously and wished to work constructively with Council and Parliament on an optimisation of the future legal basis for the organic farming sector.

"I sense a different approach from the Commission. The talks I held with Commissioner Hogan in an atmosphere of trust give me hope that our objectives can now be achieved. We must now join together to find a solution that will give the sector an opportunity to develop in a healthy manner. The future rules must, on no account, result in farms, particularly small-and-medium sized farms, being faced with excessive demands and abandoning organic farming by the dozen."

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