The main outcomes of the OPTA Farm to Fork Event on December 2 is the urgent need for sound instruments that help to realize the ambitious Farm to Fork goal of 25% organic farmland in 2030. As MEP Sarah Wiener stated clearly: for the sake of our children’s future. OPTA President Stefan Hipp (HiPP) expressed in his opening speech that organic should become accessible for EU citizens equally in all member states to support sustainable environment and healthy food that are needed now more than ever.
National action plans
EU Commissioner Janusz Wojciechowski brought forward the support of organic farmers as important instrument (Eco services as part of the CAP in both first and second pillar) and the recommendation for national action plans based on best practices in successful countries like Austria and Denmark that is under development by the Commission. He further expressed that development of the demand is needed and will be taken up in the Organic Action Plan. OPTA member Volkert Engelsman (Eosta) expressed that tax instruments based on true cost accounting are needed to create a level playing field between conventional and organic agricultural products and stop allowing externalization of costs on account of society. OPTA member Andreas Swoboda (BioBreadness) highlighted the need for strong promotional and educational instruments to realize a change in actual food consumption patterns that is needed to support sustainability and stop the unhealthy nutrition of EU citizens and by doing so lower the enormous financial pressure on the still rising expenditures for health in EU countries.
Tax and true pricing
The Commissioner stated that tax measures are not in scope. He asked the organic processing and trade sector to support the aim of 25% organic with strengthening promotion of organic food. Scientist Urs Niggli, former director of FiBL, showed the enormous challenge to reach the 25% organic 2030: ‘Organic agriculture and consumption has to grow the coming years as it never has grown before to reach that goal.’ Therefore strong instruments are needed. As number one he mentioned true pricing, because that will change the price difference between polluting practices and organic food and farming. ‘The consumer is very price sensitive and moves slow as long as the price differences stay so substantial.’ Elena Panichi, the new head of Organic unit of DG Agri, expressed the main ingredients that are in scope of the Organic Action Plan: promotion and public procurement. The input delivered at the public questionnaire is now evaluated and will be integrated in the Action Plan that is expected end of first quarter 2021.
Do or die
MEP Sarah Wiener underlined the urgent need to change our food and farming habits with the choice for next generation to die or continue as Cyborg. She expressed that we are used to make legislation to limit the food and farming industry, for instance in the use of the amount MEP Sarah Wiener says it clearly at the OPTA Farm to Fork event: ‘Our children will have to live as Cyborgs, if we don’t bring food and farming back to nature’ pesticides, fertilizers and sugar, salt and fat. Not unimportant, but something different is needed for the sake of our future: ‘We are part of nature and we have to radically bring back our food and farming back to nature. Otherwise…’ MEP Martin Häusling reflected on the discrepancy between the excellent Farm to Fork strategy and the CAP. They use the same kind of words with different meaning. ‘Organic in the Farm to Fork strategy is based on the definition in the organic regulation. In the perspective of the CAP organic is part of the Eco services and could be defined there totally different and weakened down. That might compete with and damage the organic sector seriously.’ Martin Häusling recommended to make the Farm to Fork strategy obligatory and involve besides the agricultural also the environmental and health committees to come forward faster.
OPTA association manager Bavo van den Idsert concluded that the glass is both half full and half empty. The Farm to Fork strategy contains many positive goals for the transformation to organic and several instruments are in scope by the Commission to push organic forward. But still missing are instruments to reduce the price gap between conventional and organic, like true price-based tax instruments, and instruments to transform the actual unhealthy food patterns to sustainable and healthy ones. They are most needed to accelerate organic fast for the future for our children.
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