Today, the three EU institutions – European Parliament, Council of the European Union and European Commission – signed a Joint Declaration officially instating 23 September as EU Organic Day. The celebration of the first EU Organic Day coincides with the UN Food Systems Summit, that will take place in New York.
The idea of the annual EU Organic Day was brought up in the Organic Action Plan that was published in spring 2021. Representatives of the three EU institutions and key stakeholders underlined the importance of the aim of 25% organic food and agriculture in 2030 to safeguard consumers’ health and nature’s biodiversity.
“A growing number of people support organic production. We must do all we can to support this trend. From now and every 23 September we will celebrate the EU Organic Day!”, said today Janusz Wojciechowski, European Commissioner for Agriculture, at today’s press presentation.
“Organic farming has a role to play in achieving the objectives of the European Green Deal. A market-oriented approach to further increase consumer demand and confidence in organic products will be the key. It is up to each of us to strengthen sustainable production methods by making more sustainable consumption decisions in our everyday life”, said Andreas Thurner, rapporteur for the EESC opinion on Organic Production.
“The imbalances of economic and bargaining power in EU (but also global) food systems put pressure on weaker operators and workers. More sustainable, fairer and inclusive food systems are essential if we want to achieve a well-being economy that works for people and the planet, leaving no one behind”, said Peter Schmidt, co-rapporteur for the EESC opinion on a fair food supply chain and president of the EESC Section for Agriculture, Rural Development and the Environment.
Jan Plagge, President of IFOAM Organics Europe, was present at the signature ceremony and welcomed this initiative saying “the EU Organic Day will be the ideal opportunity to take stock of how Europe is performing reaching its goal of 25% organic land under organic management by 2030, of trends in consumer demand, awareness of organic in the supply chain and of the implementation of the EU Organic Action Plan. As European organic movement, we are looking forward to collaborating with relevant institutions and interested stakeholders and all Member States and regions to make this EU Organic Day a success. I thank all organic operators and wish you a healthy, ecological, fair and caring EU Organic Day!”
However, the organic movement’s President added some cautionary notes on the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP): “This EU Organic Day is part of the EU Organic Action Plan that needs to be implemented by, among others, Member States through their national CAP strategic plans. As organic movement, we call on Member States to make the best use of the possibilities offered by the new CAP to support the development of their national organic sector. It is time to properly reward organic farmers, and conventional farmers transitioning to organic, for the benefits they deliver to nature and society, and to properly fund farm advisory systems geared towards organic and other agroecological practices. IFOAM Organics Europe published a report with an overview of national budget needs to reach 25% organic land, which makes it clear that most Member States need to increase their CAP budget dedicated to organic farming if the EU wants to reach its 25% objective.”
Eduardo Cuoco, Director of IFOAM Organics Europe said: “We are very happy about this day for which it is important to involve national, regional and even local actors for this day to be a success and celebration of the movement. Together with our members, we will coordinate to celebrate this day across Europe and show the success of organic farming to regenerate European agriculture and to reconcile farming and nature”. The Director adds that “Next year, we will make sure to celebrate in style: on top of the first EU Organic Day, we will also celebrate IFOAM Organics Europe’s 20th birthday.”
Stefan Hipp, President of OPTA Europe, welcomed this initiative: “The symbolic start of the first EU Organic Day shows the support of the Parliament, Council, and Commission, to give organic an extra boost in the coming decade. That support will pay a double dividend for both farmers and with regard to biodiversity, soil, water, health and climate. As organic sector we can and will contribute to the aims of the EU “Farm to Fork” strategy and the Organic Action Plan.”
Bavo van den Idsert, OPTA Europe Association Manager, congratulates the organic movement. “The first Organic Day is a recognition of the whole organic sector and the organic consumers who take responsibility for the benefit of the whole society. The recent approved motion in the EU Parliament supports EU Vice-President Timmermans to introduce zero VAT on organic fruit and vegetables and adds on top of this higher taxes on unsustainable and unhealthy food. With these instruments, also recommended in the OPTA Organic Action Plan, the price gap between organic and conventional will be reduced. That is the best way to increase organic food and farming more rapidly.”
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