News Biological agriculture
Organic farming has a role in solving food shortages after the Russian invasion of Ukraine. This is what EU Commissioner Janusz Wojchiechowski said during the opening of the Biofach agricultural fair in Nuremberg, Germany. Organic companies are not dependent on, among other things, fertilizer imports, so negative impacts have less influence on the sector, the EU commissioner believes.
Wojchiechowski’s statement can also be considered bold. Like conventional agriculture, organic field farmers and dairy farmers also have to cope with sharp price increases for many raw materials. Not for fertilizers and (synthetic) plant protection products, but for almost all other cost items. In addition, buyers are hesitant to raise their contract prices on, for example, canned goods and milk. Their motivation is that the difference between the price of organic and non-organic products is becoming too large, causing consumption to suffer.
Organic as a defense against food shortages
“If Russia uses the food supply as a weapon in a war, biological is part of the defense,” said Wojchiechowski during the opening of Biofach in Nuremberg. This is written by the Irish news site Farmers Journal. The agricultural fair for the organic sector will be held in Germany from 26 to 29 July. “Because of the illegal aggression in Ukraine, organic farming has become more valuable,” says the EU commissioner. “The sector is less dependent on external influences, such as the price of fertiliser.”
“Organic farms are more independent and so are outside inputs,” he says. That is why the EU Commission is focusing on more organic farming in the EU. In 2030, the ambition is to set a quarter of organic farmland. Wojchiechowski called this pursuit ambitious but achievable. Incidentally, both the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union support the importance of developing the organic sector, but they also advocate a market-oriented approach.
30% of the European budget for research and innovation in agriculture is earmarked for the organic sector. “We must invest in the robustness of the sector. The last 2.5 years have been difficult in the EU, but fortunately without food shortages. Organic and conventional farmers have contributed to this.”
It is logical that the EU Commissioner from Poland encourages the organic sector during ‘their’ fair. At the same time, the statements can also raise eyebrows. Sri Lanka has been in the news a lot lately because of the civil insurgency in that country. One of the reasons is a major food shortage after President Rajapanska forced farmers to grow organically.
The sales markets must grow
Organic farmers – at least in the Netherlands – may also have doubts about the positive talk. Costs also continue to rise sharply in their sector, while selling price lags behind. The difference between organic and conventional milk has never been so small, and in the spring it was often difficult for the field farmers to enforce price increases on, for example, canned goods such as peas, spinach and beans. The organic sales market must grow to keep up with production, but foreign sales in particular do not grow significantly because countries such as Germany, Great Britain and Scandinavian countries focus more on locally produced products.
Niels van der Boom
Niels van der Boom is senior editor for arable farming at Boerenbusiness. He mainly reports on the potato and grain market. He presents the Market Flash Granen every week.
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