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International Internet Magazine. Baltic States news & analytics Sunday, 01.11.2020, 03:16

Future of Estonia's organic farming under question

BC, Tallinn, 25.09.2020.Print version
The selling prices of organically farmed agricultural products have dropped almost to the same level as prices of non-organic products, which is calling into question the economic viability of organic farming enterprises, the Estonian Chamber of Agriculture and Commerce said on September 25th, cites LETA/BNS.

Developments related to organic farming in light of the objectives of the European Green Deal and the strategy plan that is currently under preparation for the new period of the EU's common agricultural policy were discussed at a meeting of the workgroup on organic farming of the Estonian Chamber of Agriculture and Commerce on Thursday. 

The European Commission has proposed that organically farmed area should make up 25 percent of the total agricultural area of the EU by 2030. 

"The share of organic farming in Estonia is about 23% of the agricultural land being used, in which we rank among the top in the EU. At the same time, the question has acutely arisen of whether we are able to maintain that level in the future, not to mention increase the size of  organically farmed area," the chair of the workgroup on organic farming at the Estonian Chamber of Agriculture and Commerce, Hardo Vahemae, said.

He said that in many areas, the selling prices of organic produce have dropped effectively to the levels valid for ordinary produce, which is calling into question the economic sustainability of organic farming enterprises. 

Vahemae said that where previously the market situation and export opportunities rather have facilitated the development of organic farming, the increase in organic farming volumes has significantly increased competition on the market.

He described public subsidies as playing an important role in the sustainability of organic production, as consumers have not been prepared to fully pay for the environmental benefits that go with organic farming. 

The strategy that forms a part of the European Green Deal speaks of achieving a ratio of organic farming of 25% by 2030, compared with the current EU-wide ratio of roughly 8%. "Recent years have shown that in the cereals sector, for instance, organic production has been growing faster than consumption, which has led to a big reduction in market prices. Such experience creates big uncertainty among Estonian organic producers concerning the future and a clear vision by the state is needed concerning the sector's future developments and possibilities to ensure the sustainability of organic farming," Vahemae said.

It was stated at the meeting that while organic farming could have great potential under the conditions of the planned green turnaround, it is absolutely unclear at present whether and how much the Estonian state is prepared to contribute towards facilitating the offering of environmental benefits in the agricultural sector.

"Unfortunately, there is an absolute lack of information concerning the new budget period, which poses a big problem for farmers in planning their future activities," Vahemae added.

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