Europe has arrived at a ‘historic moment” for food and farming sustainability, delegates at the 11th European Organic Congress (5-7 September, Tallinn) heard yesterday.
Speaking during the opening plenary session, Elisabeth Backteman, state secretary to the minister for Rural affairs of Sweden, said: “There is big momentum – a great opportunity to speed the transition to a more sustainable future. We a have a historic moment. The big sustainability agreements that have been struck – such as Paris – stimulate us and make us more creative in our solutions.”
Elaborating, she said: “Organic is part of the solution, in Sweden this is reflected in the growing demand of Swedish consumers for organic and the government’s commitment to reach 60% of organic food in public kitchens by 2030. We need now to develop the organic production even further, and to move much more towards more ambitious and targeted rural development investments rather than subsidies based on area.”
“We have had a situation where the quantities of money were agreed before the conditions were set. So you start to hear things like ‘we didn’t mean green-greening, we meant grey-greening’”
Jan Plagge, IFOAM EU vice president for Policy added: “The current debate on CAP reform clearly highlights that a CAP fit for the modern age must ensure fair farm incomes and the delivery of public goods demanded by society are not in conflict. Risk management tools such as insurance schemes will just encourage overproduction and undermine farm viability and our environment. A CAP prioritising public goods for public benefit, backed by a well-resourced EU budget, has the greatest chance of achieving the ambitions of the SDGs and contributing to fair farm incomes that also deliver on societal expectations.”
Jeremy Wates, secretary general at the The European Environmental Bureau, said that earlier attempts at CAP reform had failed. “It is extremely inefficient as an instrument … such a low bar is set for giving out money”.
Wates added: “We have had a situation where the quantities of money were agreed before the conditions were set. So you start to hear things like ‘we didn’t mean green-greening, we meant grey-greening’. We really do need to hear governments signing up to the greening elements.”
Pekka Pesonen, secretary general, Copa-Cogeca, said that organic needed to ensure a better performance in the market place: “Once organic is mainstream is has to ensure that is commercially efficient. When you move into the mainstream the logic becomes different. Your responsibilities become much bigger and wider.”
Responding, Wates said: “I think it’s important that the mainstream moves closer to where IFOAM is, than the other way around.”