Organic on every table
For us, ‘Organic on every table’ means high-quality and healthy food to be more widely available. This can only be achieved through increasing production and raising awareness among consumers and policymakers of organic’s economic, environmental, and social benefits.
To make organic on every table a reality, we advocated policymakers to put in place incentives and coherent policies supporting farmers who provide public goods. We did this together with a vast network of food and farming actors, civil society, companies, and non-governmental organisations (NGOs). Due to COVID-19, much of our advocacy work in 2020 took place online.
Organic’s benefits to people and planet
EU Green Deal, Farm to Fork Strategy & promotion policies
With the Farm to Fork and Biodiversity strategies’ publication on 20 May 2020, the European Commission put organic at the heart of the transformation of Europe’s food and farming sector. It recognizes that food systems are responsible for approximately 29% of the world’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and nearly 70% of all agricultural GHG emissions come from the animal sector. Furthermore, it explicitly states that “there is an urgent need to reduce dependency on pesticides and antimicrobials, reduce the use of fertilisers, increase organic farming, improve animal welfare, and reverse biodiversity loss”. The Farm to Fork (F2F) Strategy intends leading a global transition towards competitive sustainability from farm to fork.
As IFOAM Organics Europe, we welcomed the target to reach 25% organic land in Europe by 2030, as well as measures to boost the demand for organic products through promotion schemes and green public procurement.
We were also happy to see the Commission’s commitment to publish a new Organic Action Plan. These elements of the F2F strategy were the result of intense advocacy work and collaboration with policymakers.
Our President Jan Plagge stated “Proposing an EU target for organic land is a landmark decision that puts organic farming at the core of a transition of European agriculture towards agroecology. Organic farming is a successful economic model for farmers with proven benefits for the environment. Making it a cornerstone of a future EU sustainable food system is the right decision. We need to transform EU agriculture if we want to address the climate and biodiversity crisis and make our farming systems more resilient. The Farm to Fork Strategy provides EU citizens with a clear vision for the future of our food system”.
A first concrete first step to reaching the 25% target of organic land was the special attention the European Commission reserved to organic in its promotion policy programme. The organic movement will make sure the organic sector fully uses this important opportunity and called on the Commission to make this call an example for the next annual calls.
IFOAM Organics Europe’s members can request a design version of the infographic for translation.
Ensuring a GMO-free European food and farming sector: First open-source detection test for a gene-edited crop
Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) and associated farming systems promote uniformity on the field and their introduction into the environment can lead to unforeseen consequences. To avoid negative impact on the environment and health and to maintain consumer and farmer’s freedom of choice, it is crucial for the organic sector that GMOs continue to be regulated to enable a GMO-free production of food and feed in Europe.
In 2018, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled that new genetic engineering techniques are GMOs and should be regulated as such. However, a regulation is only worth so much as it can be enforced.
Thanks to a consortium of NGOs IFOAM Organics Europe was part of, an open-source detection for the first gene-edited crop on the market was released.
This is a big step forward in ensuring organic and non-organic products do not contain any products that should not be in there.
Finally, we organised two BIOFACH sessions on “Genome editing and the health concept in organic farming – co-existence or conflict?” in collaboration with Beyond GM and “New genetic engineering techniques – current implementation of EU law and future perspectives” with Bund Ökologische Lebensmittelwirtschaft (BÖLW).
Ensuring an appropriate political framework for organic: CAP post-2020
We developed a leaflet summarising the key policies to achieve the 25% organic land target in the EU by 2030.
During the second half of 2020, when CAP negotiations picked up pace, we reminded the European Parliament that the EU will not achieve its vision for sustainable food systems, including 25% of organic land by 2030, if the CAP does not align with the EU Green Deal and the Farm to Fork Strategy. The organic movement urged Members of the Parliament (MEPs) and Agriculture Ministers to agree to an ambitious ringfencing of the CAP budget for environmental and climate action, ensuring better rewards for farmers who protect ecosystem services, and creating a level-playing field across all Member States.
Thanks to IFOAM Organics Europe’s advocacy efforts, some good amendments were voted for during the European Parliament’s online plenary in October 2020. These included the obligation for Member States to analyse their organic sector, assess the situation and level of support needed for its growth, and the inclusion of a new article on social conditionality. Parliamentarians also chose to ringfence 30% of pillar one to eco-schemes but did not decide about eligible practices and asked the Commission to propose a list as a delegated act. MEPs also included 40% of the budget for Areas with Natural Constraints (ANCs) in the second pillar’s 30% environmental ringfencing. And while the Parliament refused to explicitly include the Farm to Fork and Biodiversity strategies in targets, a few positive amendments were nonetheless adopted to consider these in the assessment of National Strategic Plans.
During the CAP trilogues from November 2020 to spring 2021, IFOAM Organics Europe supported all initiatives by the Commission to better integrate the EU Green Deal into the CAP and made sure organic’s voice is heard during the negotiations between the three institutions.
We also organised a panel discussion on the Farm to Fork Strategy and the CAP during our first digital European Organic Congress 2020. Together with high-level speakers and more than 400 participants, we discussed how the CAP can contribute to the 25% EU organic land by 2030.
At the end, all speakers agreed: organic farming is a part of the solution and can make our food system more resilient.
During our BIOFACH session on “Will the new Common Agriculture Policy (CAP) benefit organic producers?”, we provided an update on the CAP reform and the policy support in member states.
Finally, we were and are part of Good Food Good Farming, a platform of national and EU-wide civil society organisations advocating for a fairer CAP and better allocation of the EU budget for sustainable farming. A highlight was the social media campaign under the hashtag #GoodFoodGoodFarming, calling for a transformation of Europe’s agriculture.
Boosting the availability of organic seeds: LIVESEED project and patents on classic breeds
One of our priority areas is making sure that seeds, the source of plant production, are fit for organic. Therefore, the LIVESEED project is crucial for the organic sector, as it stimulates organic plant breeding and the production and use of organic seeds all over Europe. IFOAM Organics Europe is coordinating this project with 50 partners since June 2017. LIVESEED’s digital final conference, during TP Organics’ Organic Innovation Days on 24-25 November, brought together more than 150 stakeholders and policymakers and its social media campaign #BreedingABrightFutureBesides raised awareness about the beauty and benefits of organic plant breeding to the wider public.
Additionally, we organised a session at BIOFACH on “Organic Seed and organic heterogenous material in the new EU Organic Regulation” and published a booklet on the main project results.
During 2020, considerable progress has been achieved on seed and Plant Reproductive Material (PRM) available to organic production systems. With the contribution of IFOAM Organics Europe and our seed experts, the rules on ‘varieties for organic production’ and ‘organic heterogenous material’ have been specified, which will give organic producers access to a more diverse range of seeds and lay the groundwork for boosting the availability for varieties suited for organic input conditions.
In parallel, we advocated against patents on seeds from classical breeding as they hamper innovation in classical breeding, which depends on the non-limited exchange of genetic material. On 14 May 2020, the European Patent Office (EPO)’s enlarged board of appeal released an opinion putting an end to patents on classically bred plants. According to the interpretation of the Administrative Council of the EPO, “European patents cannot be granted in respect of plant or animal varieties or essentially biological processes to produce plants or animals”.
The end to patents on classic breeds is a huge success for the organic movement. It allows breeders to continue working on new varieties better adapted to the changing climate and specific conditions of organic agriculture.
If the decision is properly implemented, organic breeders will not be hindered by any new patents on classically bred varieties.
Preparing the new EU Organic Regulation’s implementation
We successfully advocated for postponing the new Organic Regulation (EU2018/848)’s implementation to 1 January 2022 through digital meetings with the European Commission and regular communication towards the European institutions. The new EU Organic Regulation was initially set to enter into application on 1 January 2021. Already in April 2020, IFOAM Organics Europe called on the three EU institutions asking for a one-year postponement.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, organic producers and the organic control system were under stress, making a smooth transition from the current legal framework to the new one extremely challenging. Despite the difficult task to amend a regulation that was already published in the EU’s Official Journal,
the work we did with our members paid off and implementation of the new EU Organic Regulation was postponed to 1 January 2022,
making a smooth transition from the current legal framework to the new one extremely challenging. Despite the difficult task to amend a regulation that was already published in the EU’s official Journal, the work we did with our members paid off and implementation of the new EU Organic Regulation was postponed to 1 January 2022.
Besides our work on ensuring a reasonable timeline for implementing the new EU Organic Regulation, we closely followed the development of the delegated and implementing acts, providing the Commission with timely input, and updating our members.
We presented our work and the possible impacts of the new EU Organic Regulation to organic operators on many occasions via presentations, newsletters, briefings, webinars and a dedicated session during the digital European Organic Congress 2020, organised in collaboration with BÖLW.
Additionally, we dedicated our Policy Day at BIOFACH to the new EU Organic Regulation and presented and discussed the opportunities and challenges it will bring. A session on “Group Certification: New Organic Regulation 2021 – regulatory changes for the certification of Groups of Operators” allowed organic group operators to learn about the expected changes related to group certification, a new element in the regulation.
Organic inputs: Plant nutrition, plant protection and more
It is crucial for organic farmers to have access to suitable inputs. To ensure plant protection products (PPPs), fertilisers and food and feed additives are in line with organic’s high standards we advocated for the availability of inputs adapted to organic production systems and against those threatening organic farming systems.
As IFOAM Organics Europe, we welcomed the targets of the Farm to Fork strategy for a 50% reduction in the overall use and risk of chemical pesticides, a reduction of at least 20% in the use of fertilisers and a 50% reduction in the overall sales of antimicrobials in the EU for farmed animals and in aquaculture. This supports the promotion of organic farming as reliable alternative model for reducing the current agricultural system’s dependence on synthetic inputs.
We followed and kept an eye on the pesticide legislation’s implementation and launched a call for proposals to conduct research on pesticide contamination in the environment and pesticide residues in organic food. The research will be carried out within the framework of our “Pesticide contamination: ensuring a favourable environment for organic operators through EU legislative frameworks” project. We also organised and attended events, such as a BIOFACH session on “How much natural inputs does the organic sector need?”.
Additionally, we published a five-year roadmap for collaboration to promote the uptake of safe, environmentally friendly, and efficient biocontrol technologies of natural origin suitable for organic farming with the International Biocontrol Manufacturers Association (IBMA). In this roadmap, we identified seven areas for potential collaboration for the years to come.
These include advocating for a dedicated and proportionate regulatory framework for biocontrol solutions and building knowledge and competence on natural origin plant protection in registration authorities and among farmers.
IFOAM Organics Europe also manages the RELACS project’s ‘science-practice-policy dialogue’ and ‘communication, dissemination and facilitation’ work packages. FiBL coordinates the project that started in May 2018 and will develop alternatives for inputs considered contentious in organic agriculture. In 2020, the project published two practice abstracts on improved worm control in organic sheep farming and farm gate nutrient budgets.
Staying connected, building bridges, and increasing capacity
Exchanging with the organic movement and like-minded organisations
In 2020, we continued building bridges. Especially during these special times, it was more important than ever to stay connected with our members, policymakers, and civil society through digital tools. We exchanged regularly with our members and experts from IFOAM Organics Europe’s Board, Council, Interest Groups of Organic Processors and Traders (IGOP), Farmers (IGOF), Retailers (IGOR) & Certification and Integrity (IGOC), our regulation experts, the European Organic Comms Hub, and more working and expert groups. Of course, we constantly informed our member organisations about recent developments relevant to organic in Europe.
To get to know our members better and stay in touch, we organised inspirational speeches throughout the year. During these, our members talked about their involvement in the organic movement, how they and their organisation are changing the European food and farming system on the ground and how the work of IFOAM Organics Europe contributes this change. Speakers included Helen Browning, Chief Executive of Soil Association; Michaël Wilde, Director of Bionext; Cristina Micheloni, Organic Farming Advisor; Felix Prinz zu Löwenstein, Chairman of BÖLW and Paul Holmbeck, Director of Holmbeck EcoConsult. We are continuing these inspirational speeches in 2021.
Another highlight in 2020 was the farmers breakfast during BIOFACH together with IGOF and international IFOAM farmers group. The visiting farmers from India, South Africa and Brazil exchanged with their European counterparts. Talks centred around structural questions, such as how to make sure the policy process includes organic farmers’ voices, and agronomic principles & practices and economic & social questions.
We also supported the European Citizen Initiative Save bees and farmers, extended to June 2021, aimed at phasing out synthetic pesticides by 2035, supporting farmers, and saving bees and nature. To further support this goal, we wrote a joint letter to Commissioners Timmermans, Kyriakides, Wojciechowski and Sinkevičius, urging them to phase-out synthetic pesticides, restore biodiversity and support farmers transitioning to nature-friendly agriculture. Finally, we joined #Together4Forests, a campaign encouraging people to submit their replies to the ongoing European Commission public consultation on deforestation to push for a strong EU law to keep the EU market free from agricultural and other products linked to deforestation. The initiative gathered more than 1 million signatures, which were handed over to the European Commission on 14 December in an online event.
Building bridges beyond the organic movement
In 2020, we continued building bridges within our membership, interest and expert groups, but also with policymakers, European environmental NGOs and our involvement in the European Citizen Initiative “Save bees and farmers”. This campaign wants to phase out synthetic pesticides by 2035, support farmers, and save bees and nature.
In October 2020, IFOAM Organics Europe Board Member Marian Blom was re-elected as chair of the Civil Dialogue Group (CDG) on Organic Farming. The Chair is elected for one year and is engaged with shaping content and organisation of a CDG. IFOAM Organics Europe president Jan Plagge was elected Vice-Chair of the CAP CDG in December 2020. He chaired the CDG on the CAP for the past two years (the mandate can only be taken twice and is voted on annually). CGDs are one of the Commission’s Directorate-General for Agriculture and Rural Development of the European Commission (DG AGRI)’s stakeholder consultation tools to maintain an open, transparent and regular dialogue with representatives of the civil society on issues in the field of agriculture and rural development.
The Food Policy Coalition, a coalition of NGOs in Brussels, was created in 2019. Since then, IFOAM Organics Europe has been active in the governance and in several task forces of this coalition. As member of the executive board of this Coalition, we are co-leading the task force on sustainable public procurement and are active in other task forces such as the task forces on agroecology, on the legislative framework for sustainable food systems, and on agriculture and climate change. Thanks to our participation in this coalition, we strengthened our working relationship with other NGOs based in Brussels such as the European Environmental Bureau (EEB), The European Consumers’ Association (BEUC), and the Fair Trade Advocacy Office (FTAO).
We also continued our involvement in the Good Food Good Farming platform, and our cooperation with IBMA to promote the uptake of safe, environmentally friendly, and efficient biocontrol technologies of natural origin suitable for organic farming.
Our engagement in several Horizon2020 projects allowed us to create links with stakeholders relevant to the organic movement, such as EURAKNOS, EUREKA, IoF2020, SmartAgriHubs, ReMIX and XF-ACTORS.
Finally, we continued to collect and show initiatives bringing organic on every table on euorganic2030.bio (#EUOrganic2030, #OrganicOnEveryTable) and our Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn (@OrganicsEurope).
Improve – Inspire – Deliver
‘Improve – Inspire – Deliver’ is the second pillar of our roadmap. The entire organic supply chain has always been a driver of innovation – showing the organic movement’s potential to drive change in harmony with ecosystems and those inhabiting them.
Organic’s contribution to combatting the climate and biodiversity crises
IFOAM Organics Europe advocates for key issues at the intersection between environmental and agricultural policies, such as climate change and biodiversity conservation. In 2020, we advocated for including organic farming as a solution for issues on water, soil and biodiversity in EU policies and were involved in EU research projects looking into continuously improving organics.
With the publication of the Farm to Fork Strategy in May 2020, the European Commission made an important step towards addressing the climate and biodiversity crises. Thanks to IFOAM Organics Europe’s tireless advocacy efforts, the Farm to Fork Strategy puts organic farming at the core of a transition of European agriculture towards agroecology. Furthermore, the Biodiversity Strategy clearly mentions organic farming as a solution to halt biodiversity loss.
We continued our partnership with French think tank IDDRI to develop an evaluation of the socio-economic impacts of a transition of European agriculture towards agroecology and organic farming. The new study looks at the economic models of the agri-food sector and highlights the need to transition from “competitivity on price” and economies of scale to a production model based on quality and differentiation, which would allow to create more jobs in the sector and would be best fit to address the challenges of both the climate and biodiversity crises.
We also actively contributed to the workshops of the European Commission’s Directorate General for Climate Action (DG CLIMA) aimed at preparing its ‘carbon farming’ initiative, launched on 27 April 2027. This initiative aims at incentivizing increased carbon sequestration in agriculture soils. Increased soil carbon sequestration is a clear benefit associated with organic farming practices. But the initiative will need to ensure that actions for carbon storage also deliver benefits for biodiversity. There will be further discussions in 2021 on whether carbon markets for soils are the best policy tools to deliver these multiple benefits.
With the support of BÖLW, we finalised a leaflet explaining to policy-makers the organic approach to plant health care. It highlights that no pesticides are used on 90% of organic land, and that only natural substances are needed for some specialty crops. It argues that the EU authorisation system for pesticides needs to be adapted to ensure higher availability of the natural substances which are needed by organic farmers.
On top of that, we supported the European Citizen Initiative “Save bees and farmers”, aiming at phasing out synthetic pesticides by 2035, supporting farmers, and saving bees and nature. We also took part in the #Together4Forests campaign, encouraging people to submit their replies to the ongoing European Commission public consultation on deforestation to stop products linked to deforestation ending up on the market and on our supermarket shelves all across the EU, fueling biodiversity loss, climate change and human rights violations.
Finally, we continued our involvement in the RELACS project with the aim to foster the development and facilitate the adoption of cost-efficient and environmentally safe tools and technologies to phase out the dependency on and use of inputs considered contentious in organic farming systems.
Boosting organic production and consumption: the new EU Organic Action Plan
Even prior to the publication of the Farm to Fork strategy, the Commission had committed to publishing a new organic action plan (OAP) for the years 2021-2027, that would be a follow-up to the 2014-2020 organic action plan. The Commission foresaw to publish the OAP in 2020, but its publication was postponed to March 2021. Throughout 2020 we made our voice heard by contributing to roadmap as well as the public consultation preceding the OAP and publishing a leaflet listing the European organic movement’s priorities to boost both organic demand and production.
We were delighted to see that the new OAP took up many of the points we had advocated for.
We particularly welcomed the:
- Minimum mandatory criteria for organic in public procurement,
- Ringfencing of at least 30% of Horizon Europe budget to topics relevant to organic, and
- Actions on taxation and the real cost of food.
On the day of the release, IFAOM Organics Europe published an infographic on the organic action plan, highlighting the plan’s most welcomed actions.
Ensuring research & innovation funding for organic: Horizon Europe and beyond
We continued our work with TP Organics, the European Technology Platform for organic food and farming, to ensure sufficient funding for organic research. The platform unites more than 100 companies, farmers, consumer, and civil society organisations as well as research institutes active in the organic value chain from production, input and supply to food processing, marketing, and consumption in Europe.
In 2020, TP Organics focused on Horizon Europe, the EU Research and Innovation programme, shaping its budget period 2021-2027.
Among others, the EU Green Deal call “Building a low-carbon, climate resilient future: Research and innovation (R&I) in support of the European Green Deal” published in September 2020 clearly mentions organic farming. With a budget of EUR 1 billion to boost the green and digital transition, R&I projects in 8 thematic areas will receive funding. Area 6 is about the Farm to Fork Strategy and explicitly mentions organic and agroecological practices: “The Farm to Fork Strategy, which is at the heart of the European Green Deal, […] requires and builds on innovative solutions that can be scaled up, such as agro-ecological and organic practices, alternative sources of protein (e.g. plant-based, ocean-based, insect-based, etc.), sustainable food from the oceans and aquaculture, and personalised advice relating to sustainable healthy diets.” Proposals for Area 6 will test, pilot, and demonstrate innovative systemic solutions (innovation actions) to address urgent and pressing food systems challenges.
On top of that, the new Organic Action Plan that was published at the end of March 2021 recognises that research will be key for achieving the Farm to Fork Strategy’s objectives. It sets aside at least 30% of the budget for R&I actions in the field of agriculture, forestry and rural areas are to be dedicated to topics specific to or relevant for organic.
TP Organics’ Science Day during BIOFACH focused on innovation opportunities for organic companies in Horizon Europe to address the urgent challenge of packaging waste, in particular plastic waste, in the food sector. The panel debate with high-level speakers from policy, research and business discussed how Horizon Europe can help solve the innovation challenges of organic companies. A BIOFACH session organised by IFOAM Organics Europe on the ’Use of bioplastic in the organic industry’ provided participants with an overview of innovative solutions used in the organic farming, processing, and retailing industry.
TP Organics also published a position paper on the priority challenges for organic and agroecological Research & Innovation in view of preparation of the first Work Programme of Horizon Europe. The challenges laid out in the position paper are based on TP Organics’ Strategic Research & Innovation Agenda and complemented with a portfolio of possible actions. Furthermore, TP Organics actively followed the preparation of the new European Partnerships, in particular the partnership candidate on agroecology living labs and research infrastructures and the partnership candidate on safe and sustainable food systems. In 2020, TP Organics participated in preparatory workshops, responded to consultations and provided comments to the draft proposals of these partnerships. Similarly, TP Organics is bringing organic into the ‘Mission on Soil health and Food’ through organic farmer and Mission Board member Alfred Grand.
As IFOAM Organics Europe, we participated in the successful Organic Innovation Days. In 2020, TP Organics’ annual event was organised jointly with the LIVESEED project, featuring the LIVESEED final conference and European workshop. It took place online for the first time.
IFOAM Organics Europe is a founding member of TP Organics and hosts its secretariat.
Demonstrating organic solutions for Europe’s food and farming system
To show how organic food and farming can provide solutions to the challenges our food and farming systems face, IFOAM Organics Europe’s Director, Eduardo Cuoco, participated in a high-level event in the European Parliament organised by the Internet of Food and Farm 2020 (IoF2020) and SmartAgriHubs projects. The event highlighted achievements and contributions of these two projects to EU agriculture, while also looking at the wider world and the future of new agricultural techniques.
We also continued working on the Organic Farm Knowledge platform with other organic organisations in Europe. The online platform provides a wide range of tools and resources helping improve organic production. These tools include factsheets, guides, online calculation tools and videos on soil quality and fertility, nutrient management, pest and disease control, animal husbandry, ration planning, organic seed, and plant breeding. New themes and keywords have been implemented. The platform now features six main themes: Crop production, animal husbandry, soil, food chain management, environment and society, and farm management. An Action Plan was developed to further develop and improve the platform so that it eventually becomes the European reference hub for knowledge on organic farming.
On 1 October, IPMWorks started, a new Horizon 2020 project led by INRAE, a public research institute working for the coherent and sustainable development of agriculture, food and the environment. The objective of the project is promoting the adoption of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) strategies. As IFOAM Organics, we are responsible for coordinating the network of participating organic demonstration farms.
We also continued our work on BIOFRUITNET project, aiming to strengthen the competitiveness of European organic fruit production through strong knowledge networks. Furthermore, we participated in the ReMIX project, looking into redesigning European cropping systems based on species mixtures and continued our involvement in the NEFERTITI project, focusing on methodologies for knowledge exchange to boost the uptake of innovation and improve peer-to-peer learning. Our participation in FutureEUAqua, a project aiming at the effective promotion of sustainable growth of environmentally friendly organic and conventional aquaculture was still ongoing.
As in previous years, we offered young professionals from all over Europe the opportunity to learn about the organic movement within IFOAM Organics Europe. Five volunteers worked with us for one year within the framework of the European Solidarity Corps and increased their knowledge about organic food and farming.
Of course, we continued collecting initiatives improving organic food and farming in Europe. Get acquainted with them on EUorganic2030.bio.
Fair play – Fair pay
The roadmap’s third pillar to achieve our vision 2030 is ‘Fair play – Fair pay’. With the organic market continuing to grow throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, there is no better time to be organic. As organic went beyond a niche market, all value chain actors must play their part setting up fairer and more transparent food systems. From farmers to processors and consumers to certifiers, power and value should be fairly distributed and the costs and benefits of food production products should be accounted for.
Working towards more fairness and transparency
Throughout 2020, IFOAM Organics Europe monitored the progress of the Commission’s Product Environmental Footprint (PEF), a tool that, if implemented, would display the environmental performance of a certain product (food and non-food) during its lifecycle. While IFOAM Organics Europe welcomes any initiative that promotes further sustainability, the PEF does not currently reflect what organic is good at, for example soil fertility or animal welfare, which is why the PEF was often a topic for discussion within the Interest Group of Organic Processors (IGOP) throughout 2020.
IFOAM Organics Europe Director Eduardo Cuoco attended the Forum for the Future of Agriculture (FFA) event Rewarding sustainability in the food system. He was an expert speaker on ‘Sustainable business models: paying for the transition’ and pointed out the current system’s side effect on the environment, society, economy, and wellbeing. He stressed true cost accounting to internalize the costs of food production currently borne by society and the environment.
On top of that, our colleague Silvia Schmidt, Food Policy Officer, took part in part the online event “The Green Deal Food debate – getting prices right”. Together with other speakers, she discussed the European Green Deal and the Farm to Fork Strategy’s influence on food prices.
Improving the organic supply chain
Our work also focused on increasing the organic supply chain’s credibility, fairness, and transparency. In April 2019, the Unfair Trading Practices legislation became Directive (EU) 2019/633 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 April 2019 on unfair trading practices in business-to-business relationships in the agricultural and food supply chain. By May 2021, it will be transposed into national legislation. As it is a Directive there is room for manoeuvre on its transposition and implementation nationally. To protect the interests of the supply chains’ more vulnerable actors it is important Member States implement this Directive in the fairest way possible. This is why IFOAM Organics Europe and other associations have developed a transposition guide, providing the tools to transpose the Directive transposes well to national level. We are still involved in gathering information as to how the transposition process is going.
The transposition guide helps actors in each Member State to implement the Unfair Trading Practices Directive in a way that maximises protection of vulnerable supply chain actors.
Building bridges with organic processors, traders, and retailers despite COVID-19
In December 2020, we organised ‘IFOAM Organics Europe Meets Business – Bringing the organic food industry together’, gathering our Interest Group of Organic Processors (IGOP) and stakeholders from the entire organic supply chain. They exchanged knowledge and experiences on political and sectorial developments, their impacts on the organic value chain, as well as changes the sector will be confronted with after the new EU Organic Regulation enters into force.
Moreover, the technical IGOP met four times to discuss several topics, such as the secondary legislation of the new EU Organic Regulation, flavourings, cleaning and disinfectants, and food and environmental claims and had their annual meeting. The technical IGOP is composed of associations of processors and traders, so the IGOP annual general meeting is an opportunity for companies, members of IFOAM Organics Europe or members of members of IFOAM Organics Europe, to have their say about IGOP’s and IFOAM Organics Europe’s future work.
Finally, IFOAM Organics Europe’s Interest Group of Organic Retailers (IGOR) met at three digital meetings to discuss how to address the COVID-19 crisis and more. We also involved other food and farming actors and policymakers at regional, national, and European level to great success despite the challenging circumstances. We did this through our advocacy work, online meetings with Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) and the Commission, like-minded NGOs, our members as well as participation in relevant online workshops and events.
Of course, we continued to collect initiatives improving fairness and transparency in European organic food and farming on EUorganic2030.bio. Find these initiatives on our Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn (@OrganicsEurope) with #EUorganic2030 and #FairPlayFairPay.
Caring for our own staff in times of crisis
In spring 2020, the first wave of COVID-19 caught all of us by surprise. As IFOAM Organics Europe, we did our best to ensure the health and well-being of our staff.
We provided all necessary office equipment to staff for efficient and ergonomic homeworking, such as standing desks, monitors, keyboards and the like. Furthermore, our staff received an allowance to purchase additional ergonomic equipment they can keep after COVID-19, making their home offices even more comfortable. Based on their needs, 90% of staff received dedicated trainings on project proposal writing and reporting, media relations, event management and more.
Our regular weekly and monthly meetings and digital after-work get-togethers allowed our team to interact and exchange on a more personal level. Dedicated chat and aperitivos allowed (and continue allowing) staff to exchange informally.