Countries' perspectives on SOER 2015 - Agriculture cross-country comparison

Page Last modified 11 May 2020
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Photo: © Virgolici Raluca/EEA

Countries and regions


The Council regulation (EC) 834/2007 also regulates the CONTROL of organic products. The aim of the greening of the CAP is primarily to provide a basis for the greening of agriculture. Funding programs such as for organic farming and areas of Natura 2000 and the conservation of valuable grasslands (pastures) in the context of supporting mountain farming, serve sustainable land management in its true sense.


Flanders: In 2013, there were in Flanders 319 certified organic farms managing a total area of 5,065 hectares. This total organic area has a share of 0.8% in the total UAA. 1.3% of the agricultural businesses are organic. The average annual growth of the organic area is 6.5% per year over the last 5 years. 41 producers were certified for direct sales on the production unit and 50 of 319 organic farmers are processing their primary products on-farm.

Of the organic area, 771 hectares or 15% of the organic area were in conversion. Half of the total organic area in Flanders are pastures and nature-value farmland. Green cover makes up 17% of the organic area; arable cultures 15%; potatoes, vegetables and herbs 10%; and fruit is cultivated on the remaining 8%. 39% of all organic farms keep animals on their farm. There were almost 366,000 certified animals on the organic farms. Most of the livestock are poultry. There were also 1,228 dairy cows producing around 6 million litres of milk. These animals account for 5,554 livestock units.

The total expenses for organic products (food and non-food) in Belgium, as measured by GfK Panelservices Benelux for VLAM, amounted to 403 million euros. This represents a 1.6% market share in the total expenses of households. 88% of the Belgian households declared to have bought at least one organic product last year.

Organic fresh products in Belgium are in average one third more expensive than conventional products. This price difference remains stable over the years. The most expensive products are organic eggs, which are two and a half times as expensive as non-organic eggs. Organic meat substitutes are the cheapest: the organic and non-organic product have almost the same price.

Supermarkets remain the most important distribution channel for the commercialization of organic products. 44.1% of the sales happen through supermarkets. Specialized retailers and hard discount record a significant push in their market shares up to 13.5% and 2.7% of the total expenses of organic products. The Flemish government spent in 2013, 3.57 million euros for organic farming. 38% of the expenses go directly to the organic farmer through hectare aid, investment support, contribution to the control expenses, and preparation of business conversion plans and customized business counselling. A quarter is intended for research and knowledge development. 21% are spent for chain and market development. Organic promotion and training for organic farmers account for the remaining 16%.

The second strategic plan for organic farming (2013-2017) aims at a sustainable qualitative and quantitative growth of the sector in Flanders, a stable market development and an optimal development of the exemplary function of organic farming for a more sustainable agriculture and society. Another priority according to the Minister’s policy document 2014-2019 is knowledge development within the organic sector and exchange of knowledge with the non-organic agriculture and food industry. The importance of a fair level playing field in the European Union is stressed.

Wallonia: Organic farming in Wallonia is increasing. Indeed, the percentage of farms that have switched to organic farming increased from 2.1% in 2000 to 8.2% in 2012 and the percentage of organic UAA increased from 2.2% in 2000 to 7.7% in 2012. Organic livestock has quintupled from 2002 to 2012. The recent boom of the organic sector is mainly explained by the introduction of a more interesting regional support scheme (premiums for conversion, recurrent direct aids) and rising consumer interest. This alternative agricultural production method is supported by the Walloon government who adopted, in 2013, a Walloon strategic plan for developing organic farming towards 2020.


In Ireland, land used for organic farming accounted for 1.2% of total agricultural land in 2012.


Organic farming in Poland

1. Organic farms

In recent years Poland has seen a dynamic growth of areas under organic farming as well as number of organic farms. Development of organic farming is also characterized by growth in number of organic processing plants and organic products available on the market. There were 27,000 of organic producers subjected to the control of appropriate certification entities in Poland according to the data available on 31.12.2013. They included 26,600 of organic farms operating on the area of almost 670,000 hectares. When comparing to 2012 it makes up about 1% growth rate in the area under organic farming and 3% growth rate in the number of farms. In 2013 more than 400 organic manufacturers were operating in Poland.

Over the period 2003-2013 Poland saw an 11-fold increase in number of organic farms, from 2,286 in 2003 to almost 26,600 in 2013. Over the same period (2003- 2013) the average size of organic farm did not change considerably – it oscillated between 20.71 and 25.19 hectares. In the years 2010-2013 the average size of organic farm was about 25 hectares while the average size of conventional farm was about 10 hectares.

In the years 2003-2013 an 11- fold increase in the area of ecological arable lands was registered, from 61,000 hectares in 2003 to about 675,000 hectares in 2013. In 2013 the area utilized according to organic farming legislation was larger by 2% compared to 2012 and constituted 4% of total utilised agricultural area in Poland.

According to Eurostat data (2012) Poland was in the 3rd position in European Union as regards number of organic farms. In 2012 average size of organic farm in Poland was regionally differentiated and oscillated between 10.01 to 42.59 hectares. Relatively smaller farms are in south-eastern and the largest – in north and north-western part of Poland.

In 2012 farms with area under cultivation between 10 and 20 hectares had the highest share in total number of organic farms (25.5%). The share of organic farms with area under cultivation less than 5 hectares was 19.3% and with area under cultivation more than 100 hectares – 4.6% of total number of organic farms. The share of organic farms with area under cultivation less than 20 hectares was 68.9% of total number of organic farms (according to the report on the state of organic farming in Poland in 2011-2012 prepared by Agricultural and Food Quality Inspection).

As regards livestock the following trends were registered over the period 2010-2012: increase in number of cattle for meat production, poultry and sheep; decrease in number of dairy cows (17% decrease), size of cows’ milk production (8% decrease) and number of pigs (mainly sows).

Domestic organic products include mainly cereals, fruits and dairy products. In 2012 more than 100,000 tons of cereals, 20000 tons of vegetables, 42 000 tons of fruits and 26 000 tons of milk and over 20 million eggs were put into the market.

2. Organic processing plants

Over the period 2003 -2013 the number of organic processing plants increased 18 times, from 22 in 2003 to 407 in 2013. In 2012 most of the organic processing plants in Poland were dealing with processing fruits and vegetables (31.6%) and production referring to grinding of cereals (23.6%). Considerably smaller was the share of coffee and tea (5%), meat (7%) and milk processing (4.7%). The production of other agriculture and food articles (for example cacao, chocolate or confectionery) was led by 24.8% of organic processing plants.

3. Framework Action Plan for Organic Food and Organic Farming in Poland for 2014-2020

Poland is aiming at further development of organic agriculture production. Taking into account its high importance the Framework Action Plan for Organic Food and Organic Farming in Poland for 2014- 2020 was prepared. The document presents actions which should be taken by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and entities supervised and subordinated to the Ministry. The main goal of the Action Plan is to further develop organic farming as well as the organic food market in Poland, which would be achieved by accomplishment of tasks set according to the following 7 specific targets:

  • To enhance competitiveness of organic farming and increase of organic food supply on the market;
  • To encourage development of organic products processing;
  • To diversify and strengthen distribution channels for organic products;
  • To enhance consumer’s knowledge of the organic farming and organic food;
  • To strengthen cooperation between entities operating in organic farming sector;
  • To involve government and self-government authorities in development of organic farming sector;
  • To maintain high quality level of organic products control and certification system.

The above-mentioned targets and actions set to support their realization were established on the basis of the analysis of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of organic farming, which is also included in the Action Plan.


In the UK organic produce is considered a premium product, the sales for which are therefore clearly linked to the ability and willingness of the consumer to pay this premium. Therefore the points chosen on the dataset to make the comparisons are important and just choosing the 2006 mid-point can obscure the overall story.

Figure 1 would appear to suggest that the share of the utilised agricultural area (UAA) that is organic has flat lined. When one considers our domestic organic data series published as part of Agriculture in the UK

(1) it becomes clear that the amount of in-conversion land grew year-on-year from 2004 to 2007 contributing to a growth in the overall organic area from between 2006 and 2008. As the country moved into recession the amount of land in conversion collapsed to only a third of its 2007 and 2008 magnitude, this coupled with land being brought out of organic use has contributed to a fall in the UK total organic area between 2009 and 2012. The picture actually varies across the UK and despite the recent decline there is still more organic agricultural land in both England and Wales than in 2006 (1).

Figure 1 is shown in percentage terms and despite the overall increase in the UAA in the mid-2000s linked in part to the movement towards area (and not production) based farm subsidies the total organic share increased to a peak of 4.2% in 2009. Ultimately organic agriculture represents a tiny portion of both UK (and European) agriculture, to put this into perspective the total organic area would need to triple to match the area of the largest cereal crop (wheat (2)). Rather than looking at a minority portion of agriculture it can be more meaningful to consider how the wider industry is tackling its environmental impacts e.g. through agri-environment scheme uptake. At the end of 2013 in the UK there was a significant number of different agri-environment agreements (3) in place, (around 50 thousand in England alone). The area of the UK covered by entry-level, whole -farm agri -environment schemes was 6.9 million hectares (4) whilst 3.4 million hectares were covered by the more stringent higher level or targeted agri-environmental schemes (5). Around 40% of the UAA in the UK is accounted for by farms with at least an entry level agreement and therefore dwarfs the proportion of UK farmland managed organically.

  1. Agriculture in the United Kingdom: Chapter 12 - organic farming
  2. Structure of the agricultural industry in England and the UK at June: annual time series: 1984 to 2014
  3. Agriculture in the United Kingdom: Chapter 10 - public payments
  4. UK Biodiversity Indicators in your Pocket 2013: Indicator B1. Agricultural and forest area under environmental management schemes
  5. Higher and Entry level schemes are not mutually exclusive because some higher level agreements are linked to entry level agreements and may be occupying the same area of land. One cannot therefore simply add the two figures together to generate an overall area covered by agri-environment scheme.



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