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Friday, 06 December 2013

Organic farming gaining ground, Commission report shows

The organic sector in the European Union (EU) has been rapidly developing during the past years, the report "Facts and Figures on Organic Farming" issued today by the European Commission (EC) points out. The report gives an overview of organic agriculture in Europe based on the data available and its evolution over recent years. It shows in particular that organic holdings are overall bigger than conventional farms in the EU and their managers are younger. Permanent pasture represents the biggest share of the organic area (about 45%), followed by cereals (around 15%) and permanent crops (about 13%). Besides poultry, which registers the highest number of animal organic heads, the rest of organic livestock is led by sheep (46%) and bovines (30%) at European level.
According to Eurostat data, the EU-27 had in 2011 a total area of 9.6 million hectares cultivated as organic, up from5.7 million in 2002. During the last decade, organic area in the EU improved by about 500 000 hectares per year. This is a big increase, but the whole organic area represents only 5.4% of total utilized agricultural area in Europe. The organic area is cultivated by more than 186 000 farms across Europe. Most of the organic land (78%) and of organic farms (83%) are situated in the EU Member States having joined the EU before 2004 (the so called EU-15), in which national and European legislation, among others, helped stimulate the development of this sector. The European countries having joined the EU since 2004 (called in the report the EU-N12) are not lagging behind and are quickly expanding the organic sector as well. They registered a13% yearly growth rate in their organic area from 2002 to 2011 and saw their number of holdings increase almost tenfold between 2003 and 2010.
The report gives an indication of the situation of organic agriculture in Europe, for given years, according to data availability. It feed into the ongoing review of the political and legal framework for organic agriculture in Europe, with an overall strategy to be put forward in early 2014.

Source: European Commission,