On Tuesday, Austrian Minister of Agriculture Norbert Totschnig invited all interested parties to the annual Ministry of Agriculture organic enquete. "Austria is the premier organic country in Europe and it is our goal to keep it that way. We will succeed in this through the "Organic Action Program 2023" within the framework of the new Common Agricultural Policy," said Agriculture Minister Norbert Totschnig at the presentation of the program, which was also attended by BIO AUSTRIA Chairwoman Gertraud Grabmann and LKÖ President Josef Moosbrugger. The action program includes, among other things, the support of the Green Deal targets, the consideration of the measures of the EU Organic Action Program, the implementation of the Organic Regulation 2018/848 as well as the increase in demand for organic products.
"According to the EU Organic Action Plan, organic areas in Europe are to be expanded to 25 percent by 2030. With more than 26 percent of the acreage and 22 percent of our farms being organic, we have already reached this target. We are aiming to expand this to 30 percent by 2027, continuing to play a pioneering role in Europe," said Totschnig. The way to achieve this is through the new Common Agricultural Policy, in which organic production plays an important role. Support measures amounting to around 550 million euros per year will be available for this purpose. Furthermore, 'organic' will again exist as a separate measure in the ÖPUL environmental program.
"More than ten percent of the food purchased is organic. We are seeing that consumers are remaining loyal to these products, despite generally increased prices. Those who buy regionally are strengthening our family farms, are protecting the environment through shorter transport routes and to top it all off: the added value remains in the country," said the Agriculture Minister.
Grabmann: Strengthening organic requires coordinated use of various measures
"Organic agriculture is an important instrument for achieving the climate and biodiversity goals of the Green Deal. It must be continuously strengthened and expanded accordingly. This requires the coordinated use of a set of diverse measures and instruments. The Organic Action Program addresses many of these instruments, making a significant contribution to the further development of organic at the national level and to maintaining the organic role model within Europe. As an organic association, it is our concern to contribute to the implementation of the diverse measures of the Organic Action Program - from advisory and educational services for farmers to informing consumers about the benefits of organic agriculture for the environment and society," BIO AUSTRIA Chairwoman Gertraud Grabmann emphasized.
"Despite a generally high inflation, sales of organic food in Austria are far above the comparable period of 2019 and 2020 in terms of volume, and only marginally behind the record sales year of 2021. The fact that organic food in Austria shows such stable sales in times of inflation is due to the high environmental and quality awareness of Austrians. We should strive to continue this situation, in order to maintain market stability and to achieve the goal of a 35 percent organic share by 2030, which was set in the Organic Action Program. Since ongoing evaluation measures are being carried out along the way in order to be able to improve measures if necessary, I am very optimistic that we will achieve this goal together," said Grabmann.
Moosbrugger: Balance between supply, sales and sustainability is important
"In implementing the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), Austrian agricultural policy has succeeded in achieving practicable and forward-looking framework conditions for the domestic organic sector as well, despite higher requirements in the environmental sector. It was even possible to increase the funds. However, the Russian war on Ukraine poses a considerable challenge for our organic farms. In any case, high quality, regional sourcing and good producer prices must continue to be our motto. This path, with which we have been very successful so far, must also be supported in the marketing. We need to communicate to people how they themselves - as well as the environment and animal welfare - will benefit from our high standards."
"We want our organic farmers to be able to continue to manage their farms organically if they want to do so and to have the appropriate prerequisites. However, in light of the enormous cost increases, there needs to be a better value-added component that allows our farmers to flourish. It is key for the Organic Action Program to keep a close eye on the markets in Europe and Austria and to include them in all considerations, especially when it comes to the topic the expansion of our organic acreage. The most important thing for organic farmers and security of supply is a perfect balanced between supply, sales and sustainability, as envisaged in the EU Organic Action Plan."
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