Agri co-ops respond to European Parliament Organic Action Plan report

The co-ops welcomed the report, which calls for a market based approach but fails to mention targets

The European Parliament has adopted a report on the EU’s Organic Action Plan, which calls for a market-based approach but does not mention any targets.

The own-initiative report was adopted by MEPs during a plenary session in Strasbourg on 3 May by 611 votes to 14, with five abstentions. The parliament’s agriculture committed had already unanimously approved the report on 6 April.

The text highlights the benefits of organic farming for climate-change mitigation, biodiversity and soil protection but fails to mention the EU’s target to see 25% of agricultural land farmed organically by 2030, as previously outlined in the Commission’s Farm to Fork strategy.

“The market should determine the extent of the growth of the organic sector, not any pre-set target figure”, said the Parliament’s rapporteur on the EU action plan for organic farming, Simone Schmiedtbauer (EPP, Austria), on 2 May, ahead of the vote.

The voice of European farmers and agricultural co-ops, Copa and Cogeca, welcomed the report and its inclusion of “important aspects for European farmers and agri co-operatives”.

It also noted recognition in the report for “the vital role of a market-driven approach in the transition to organic farming”, and said the report stressed that the transition should be backed “not only through the CAP’s support, but also by a sound development in the quantity and quality of inputs needed by farmers, such as seeds and plant protection products, in line with the organic requirements”.

Related: A third of French agricultural co-ops have organic certifications

Copa and Cogeca says organic farming is increasingly important in the context of climate change, Covid-19 and the invasion of Ukraine by Russia and called on European legislators to make swift progress on use of digital and innovative technologies.

Lone Andersen, chair of Copa and Cogeca’s organic working party, said: “I am glad the European Parliament sends an important message to the organic farming community. European organic farmers and agri co-operatives need a close and strong collaboration with EU institutions and stakeholders if we want to achieve the ambitious targets set out by the Farm to Fork Strategy. I hope this non-legislative report will send a clear message to legislators for their future work.”

Copa and Cogeca also welcomed the request for an impact assessment of the plan to increase the share of the EU’s agricultural area under organic farming.

Related: More action needed on food sustainability, Euro Coop tells EC

In 2019, the EU’s total agricultural area under organic farming was 13.8 million hectares and accounted for 8.5% of the EU’s total utilised agricultural area. However, this varies significantly between member states from 0.5% to 26% of agricultural area under organic farming.

The report is not legally binding. Own-initiative reports are a tool for the European Parliament to request the European Commission to put forward a legislative proposal on a certain issue. The Commission intends to publish a midterm review on the Organic Action Plan in 2024.