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Area under organic farming (CSI 026) - Assessment published Nov 2005

Indicator Assessmentexpired Created 23 May 2005 Published 14 Nov 2005 Last modified 09 May 2015, 10:51 AM
This content has been archived on 09 May 2015, reason: No more updates will be done

Key messages

The share of organic farming is increasing strongly and now stands at about 4 % of agricultural area in the fifteen older EU Member States and the EFTA countries. EU agri-environment programmes and consumer demand have been key factors for this strong increase. The share of organic land remains far below 1 % in most of the ten new Member States and the accession countries.

What are the environmentally-relevant key trends in agricultural production systems?

Organic farming area in Europe

Note: The figure shows the organic farming area in Europe

Data source:

Institute of Rural Sciences, University of Wales, Aberystwyth

Downloads and more info

Share of organic farming area in total utilised agricultural area

Note: The figure shows the share of organic farmong area in total utilised agricultural area 1990 and 2002

Data source:

Institute of Rural Sciences, University of Wales, Aberystwyth

Downloads and more info
  • The share of organic farming is far higher in northern and central European countries than in other parts of Europe - with the exception of Italy. The share is particularly low in most new EU Member States and the accession countries. The overall distribution seems to be influenced by the presence of consumer demand for organic products and government support in the form of agri-environment schemes and other measures.
  • There is considerable regional variation of the share of organic farming within individual countries.
  • Recent literature reviews provide information on the environmental impacts of organic agriculture compared to conventional management systems but results are not always unambiguous. The environmental benefits of organic farming are most clearly documented for biodiversity as well as for water and soil conservation. However, there is no clear evidence of reduced greenhouse gas emissions. It needs to be taken into account that organic agriculture is likely to have a more positive environmental impact in areas with highly intensive agriculture than in low-input farming systems. However, so far the regional uptake of organic farming is concentrated in extensive grassland regions, where fewer changes are needed to convert to organic farming than is the case in intensive, arable farming dominated regions, where the benefits would be higher.

Indicator specification and metadata

Indicator definition

Share of organic farming area (sum of existing organically farmed areas and areas in process of conversion) as a proportion of total utilised agricultural area (UAA).

Organic agriculture can be defined as a production system which puts a high emphasis on environmental protection and animal welfare by reducing or eliminating the use of GMOs and synthetic chemical inputs such as fertilisers, pesticides and growth promoters/regulators. Instead, organic farmers promote the use of cultural and agro-ecosystem management practices for crop and livestock production. The legal framework for organic farming in the EU is defined by Council Regulation 2092/91 and amendments.

Units

Sum of organic area and area being converted, measured in ha. Share of organic farming is given as a percentage of total utilised agricultural area.


Policy context and targets

Context description

Organic farming is an environmentally sustainable form of agricultural production. Its legal framework is defined by Council Regulation 2092/91 and amendments. The adoption of organic farming methods by individual farmers is supported through agri-environment scheme payments and other rural development measures at Member State level. In 2004 the EU Commission published a 'European Action Plan for Organic Food and Farming' (COM(2004) 415 final) to further promote this farming system.

Targets

No specific EU target on the share of organic farming area.

A number of EU Member States have already set targets for area under organic farming, often 10-20 % in 2010.

Country

Name of Programme

Target year

Target

Austria

Aktionsprogramm Biologische Landwirtschaft 2003-2004

2004/2006

At least 105.000 ha in 2004 and at least 115.000 in 2006

Belgium

Vlaams actieplan biologische landbouw - Flemish Action Plan

2010

10 % organic farmers

Denmark

Actionplan II - Developments in organic farming

2005

10 % organic farmers, 20.000 ha more than 1999

France

Plan Pluriannuel de Developpement et la Promotion de l'Agriculture Biologique

2005/2010

2010 France as the leading European organic producing country, Conversion of 1 million ha and 25 000 farmers by 2005

Germany

Bundesprogramm  kologischer Landbau

2010

20 % organic by 2010

The Netherlands

An organic market to conquer

2005/2010

5 % organic land until 2005 , 10 % organic land until 2010

Sweden

Action Plan

2005

20 % organic land in 2005

UK-Wales

Welsh Agrifood Action Plan for the Organic Sector (March 1999)

2005

10 % organic land

Spain (Andalusia)

The Andalusian Plan for Organic Farming

2006

No specific target with regard to area


Related policy documents

  • COM (1998) 42
    Communication of the European Commission to the Council and to the European Parliament on a European Community Biodiversity Strategy. COM (1998) 42

Methodology

Methodology for indicator calculation

The indicator is calculated by measuring the total agricultural area certified as organic or in conversion to organic farming in accordance with EU Reg. 2092/91 and dividing it by the total utilised agricultural area.

Methodology for gap filling

No gap filling

Methodology references

No methodology references available.

Uncertainties

Methodology uncertainty

Accuracy of data on organic farming varies between countries, and includes provisional estimates.

Data sets uncertainty

  • Geographical and time coverage on EU level:

Depends on research funding and support from organic organic farming associations.

 

  • Representativeness of data on national level:

Representativeness is high but some countries still have a rather low share of organic farming which limits the possibility to follow trends.

 

  • Comparability:

High comparability.

Rationale uncertainty

No uncertainty has been specified

Data sources

Generic metadata

Topics:

Agriculture Agriculture (Primary topic)

Biodiversity Biodiversity

Tags:
agriculture | csi
DPSIR: Response
Typology: Descriptive indicator (Type A - What is happening to the environment and to humans?)
Indicator codes
  • CSI 026
Dynamic
Temporal coverage:
1985-2002
Geographic coverage:
Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, United Kingdom

Contacts and ownership

EEA Contact Info

Karina Makarewicz

Ownership

EEA Management Plan

2010 (note: EEA internal system)

Dates

Filed under: ,
European Environment Agency (EEA)
Kongens Nytorv 6
1050 Copenhagen K
Denmark
Phone: +45 3336 7100