Key EU policy-makers: Organic is a key sector to develop in Europe

Bari, Italy, 11 September 2014 – From EU to national and regional level, policy-makers and organic stakeholders agree: the EU must support the development of the organic sector across Europe to achieve a sustainable agricultural system that benefits people and planet.  “Our goal is to create a sustainable model of agriculture based on distinctiveness, competitiveness and innovation. In this context, organic farming is a strategic sector for Italy and for all Europe.” This was the message of Maurizio Martina, Italian Minister of Agriculture, at the 8th European Organic Congress currently taking place in Bari, Italy. “We are using the Italian Presidency of the European Council to tackle the proposal for a new EU regulation. Another decisive date for the entire food industry and the challenges of the future will be Expo 2015, which will be a moment of collective reflection on crucial issues such as food security.”

Alina-Stefania Ujupan, Deputy Head of Cabinet for Dacian Cioloş, European Commissioner of Agriculture and Rural Development, said: “The organic sector has made dramatic progress in recent years, and there is scope for continued growth – above all if consumer confidence remains strong. The organic package proposed by the Commission is aimed at improving the framework in which the organic sector can develop. This is important in order to maintain the credibility of the EU organic logo. The Commission is attaching great importance to this package and to a continued and fruitful dialogue with all stakeholders in this field.”

Speaking to stakeholder concerns that new regulation could hinder development, Paolo De Castro, Member of the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development of the European Parliament, stressed: “Organic continues to develop dynamically all over Europe. However, the Parliament is well aware that there are some concerns in the organic sector about the Commission’s proposal for a new Organic Regulation. Therefore I will guarantee an active participation of the sector in each step of the process in order to ensure a regulation that balances principles and feasibility, and ensures the continuous growth of organic farming.”

Francesco Schittulli, President of the Provincial Authority of Bari welcomed the congress participants, saying: “The importance of the growing organic sector in the province of Bari cannot be neglected, and initiatives to strengthen the sector in the region by policy-makers will be met with great enthusiasm by the Provincial Authority.”

Cosimo Lacirignola Secretary-General of CIHEAM, the Mediterranean Agronomic Institute of Bari, co-organiser  of the event, stated that; “Figures show that Organic Agriculture is a great opportunity not only for Italian agriculture but also for Europe and for the Mediterranean basin. Producing more and polluting less is the greatest challenge and requires smart growth. This is the main task that CIHEAM has been performing over the years: adjusting knowledge to the needs of territories. Innovating through education and training means understanding the needs of territories in order to identify scientific solutions to combat hunger, desertification, water scarcity, loss of biodiversity.”

Building on the benefits of alternative agroecological methods of farming, Arie van den Brand, from the Groupe de Bruges and ARC 2020, said: “ARC2020 sees agroecology as a great opportunity to bring farmers, researchers and activists together. Agroecological approaches can be applied everywhere in the food system, from the European Innovation Partnership’s practical work with science and farming, to shorter supply chains linking producers and consumers.  By playing our part in uniting producers, science and social movements, we can all work together to help Europe begin to develop a coherent, holistic, agri-food policy, one that really works for its citizens.”

IFOAM EU President Christopher Stopes stressed the need to back up good initiatives with the right tools for successful implementation: “The Commission has renewed their commitment to organic farming by launching a new European Organic Action Plan outlining the important role organic production plays for the sustainable development of agriculture. It is now crucial that the Commission and Member States implement a concrete plan to stimulate the growth of organic production in Europe. This can be done by launching an organic innovation programme under Horizon 2020 and transnational research schemes, as well as providing strongly support for organic production within the new rural development programme and a balanced approach to the further development of the EU organic regulation working together with policy makers.”

Organic stakeholders at the 8th European Organic Congress are gathered in Bari to meet policymakers and decision makers from the Italian EU Presidency, the European Commission, and Parliament and to discuss the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead for EU organic food and farming. Focal points are the new Rural Development Programmes, the European Innovation Partnership for Agriculture and the Organic Regulation Review.

The 8th European Organic Congress is organised by IFOAM EU, the CIHEAM-IAM Bari (Mediterranean Agronomic Institute of Bari), the Italian Ministry of Agriculture and the Italian EU Presidency.
For more information contact IFOAM EU at + 32-2-280 12 23info@ifoam-eu.org or visit www.ifoam-eu.org

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About Oliver Moore 197 Articles

Dr. Oliver Moore is the communications director and editor-in-chief with ARC2020. He has a PhD in the sociology of farming and food, where he specialised in organics and direct sales. He is published in the International Journal of Consumer Studies, International Journal of Agricultural Resources, Governance and Ecology and the Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development. A weekly columnist and contributor with Irish Examiner, he is a regular on Countrywide (Irish farm radio show on the national broadcaster RTE 1) and engages in other communications work around agri-food and rural issues, such as with the soil, permaculture, climate change adaptation and citizen science initiative Grow Observatory . He lectures part time in the Centre for Co-operative Studies UCC.

A propos d'Oliver Moore
Oliver voyage beaucoup moins qu’auparavant, pour ce qui concerne son activité professionnelle. Il peut néanmoins admirer par la fenêtre de son bureau les mésanges charbonnières et les corbeaux perchés au sommet du saule dans le jardin de sa maison au cœur de l’écovillage de Cloughjordan, en Irlande. L’écovillage est un site de 67 acres dans le nord du Tipperary. Il comprend d’espaces boisés, des paysages comestibles, des lieux de vie, d’habitation et de travail, ainsi qu’une ferme appartenant à la communauté. Les jours où il travaille dans le bureau du centre d’entreprise communautaire, il profite d’une vue sur les chevaux, les panneaux solaires, les toilettes sèches et les jardins familiaux. 

Ce bureau au sein de l’écovillage constitue en effet un tiers-lieu de travail accueillant également des collaborateurs des associations Cultivate et Ecolise, ainsi qu’un laboratoire de fabrication (« fab lab »). 

Oliver est membre du conseil d’administration de la ferme communautaire (pour la seconde fois !) et donne également des cours sur le Master en coopératives, agroalimentaire et développement durable à l’University College Cork. Il a une formation en sociologie rurale : son doctorat et les articles qu’il publie dans des journaux scientifiques portent sur ce domaine au sens large.

Il consacre la majorité de son temps de travail à l’ARC 2020. Il collabore avec ARC depuis 2013, date à laquelle l’Irlande a assuré la présidence de l’UE pendant six mois. C’est là qu’il a pu constater l’importance de la politique agroalimentaire et rurale grâce à sa chronique hebdomadaire sur le site d’ARC. Après six mois, il est nommé rédacteur en chef et responsable de la communication, poste qu’il occupe toujours aujourd’hui. Oliver supervise le contenu du site web et des médias sociaux, aide à définir l’orientation de l’organisation et parfois même rédige un article pour le site web. 

À l’époque où on voyageait davantage, il a eu la chance de passer du temps sous les tropiques, où il a aidé des ONG irlandaises de commerce équitable – au Ghana, au Kenya, au Mali, en Inde et au Salvador – à raconter leur histoire.

Il se peut que ces jours-là reviennent. Pour son compte Oliver continuera de préférer naviguer en Europe par bateau, puis en train. Après tout, la France n’est qu’à une nuit de navigation. En attendant, il y a toujours de nombreuses possibilités de bénévolat dans la communauté dans les campagnes du centre de l’Irlande.