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The European Green Deal’s farm to fork strategy sets the target that, by 2030, at least 25% of the EU’s agricultural area should be under organic farming. The share of the EU’s agricultural land under organic farming increased from 5.9% in 2012 to 9.9% in 2021 as a result of an increasing demand for organic products and policy support. To meet the target, the pace will need to almost double in the remaining years up to 2030. Although the policies currently in place are expected to increase the share of organic farming, this will not be enough to meet the target.
Organic farming refers to the production of food using natural substances and processes. It avoids or markedly reduces the use of synthetic chemicals, applies high standards of animal welfare and excludes the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). It has benefits for biodiversity, soil health and water quality.
European Green Deal initiatives, particularly the EU Biodiversity strategy for 2030 and the Farm to Fork strategy, set the target that at least 25% of the EU’s utilised agricultural area (UAA) should be under organic farming by 2030. The UAA under organic farming in the EU has increased since 2012 continuously, due to demand for organic products and policy support. In 2021 it covered an estimated 16 million hectares, 9.9% of the EU’s UAA.
The annual compound growth rate between 2012 and 2021 was 6%. Meeting the 25% target by 2030 would require a nearly doubled annual compound growth rate of 10.8% for the 2021-2030 period. This would require the conversion of 27 thousand km2 per year in 2021-2030.
The share of the organic farming area is expected to further increase by 2030. The growth rate is projected to remain stable and to lead to a 15% organic farming area share in 2031, with the assumption of a growing demand and continuing policy support .
The European Green Deal introduced new initiatives to increase demand and supply of organic products, such as the new EU Organic Action Plan. In this context, the new Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) 2023-2027 aims to encourage support to organic farming. In its first year of implementation, the national CAP strategic plans of Member States set a level of area targets and financial allocation to organic farming to increase the support to about 10% of the total utilised agricultural area in 2027 .
At present, it is very unlikely that the 2030 target will be met because of the large distance to the target. The current policy support, in itself, is not sufficient to reach the target. More time is needed for the implementation of European Green Deal actions. Furthermore, the evolution of the demand for organic products has become more unstable since 2022. To reach the target, accelerated development and implementation of coherent policies with increased ambition levels need to support a fundamental transformation of food production and consumption.
In 2021, Austria , Estonia and Sweden had more than 20% of their UAA under organic farming, the highest shares of all EU Member States. By contrast, in six Member States less than 5% of their UAA were under organic farming, the lowest shares being in Ireland, Bulgaria and Malta.
In the EEA member and cooperating countries for which data are available, less than 5% of their UAA were under organic farming, except Switzerland (with 17%). The share of organic farming area increased in Switzerland, and decreased in Norway between 2012 and 2021.
The shares of UAA under organic farming increased between 2012 and 2021 in all EU Member States, except Poland, where the share decreased.