Soil Association Comment on EFRA 'Greening the CAP' report
06 June 2012
Commenting on the EFRA Greening the CAP report, the Soil Association said:
We welcome the European Commission’s proposals to green Pillar 1, as long as these apply equally across Europe, and do not weaken the impact of environmental programmes in Pillar 2. And we are pleased that the Commission has recognised the EU-wide environmental benefits of organic farming by automatically including it in the greening element of the CAP proposals.
Organic farming is legally defined throughout the European Union, and we agree with conservation bodies that it is essential that any greater flexibility does not lead to lower environmental standards. 
In light of the Danish Presidency’s meeting of agricultural ministers next week (3-5 June), we welcome Denmark’s comment that:
“Organic production and products is a good example of a green growth business model where a mix of a market pull and policy incentives lead to 1) more sustainable production methods on the ground (green) and 2) added value (growth).” 
Research just published for the European Commission highlights the fact that the UK receives the lowest payments for organic farmers in the EU. 
“The authors of this study see a possibility in the development of common organic sector development principles. These could be integrated into the future Rural Development Framework. The agreed-upon principles could also be used directly by the individual Member States to develop suitable support strategies.”
The Soil Association supports this approach. 
This comes at a time when the UK is the only significant organic market in the EU that contracted during the recession, from the end of 2008 – all other EU markets have continued to grow or in the case of Germany, have been stable then resumed growth. 
Notes to Editors:
 EFRA Committee Web page
 From the working document for informal meeting of Ministers of Agriculture prepared by Danish Presidency Mette Gjerskov (14 May 2012)
Full comment: “Organic production and products is a good example of a green growth business model where a mix of a market pull and policy incentives lead to 1) more sustainable production methods on the ground (green) and 2) added value (growth). “Organic farming” as a green growth business model is driven by a unique supply/demand situation where frontrunner producers take advantage of an opportunity in the market. The business model is nourished by governmental financial support schemes, innovation, consumer patterns and pull from the market. To achieve these objectives, new types of skills, multidisciplinary policy approaches and interactions between stakeholders, such as farmers, processing industries and consumers will be needed. Public-private partnership is one way of establishing cooperation between legislators and businesses.”
 EU-commissioned research that shows the UK (and England, Scotland and Wales separately) giving the lowest level of financial support for organic farming of all 27 Member States.
 Soil Association report: ‘Lazy Man of Europe’
 The UK is the only significant organic market in the EU that contracted during the recession, from the end of 2008 – all other EU markets have continued to grow or in the case of Germany, have been stable then resumed growth. For example, the latest figures we have show the organic markets in Belgium and Italy growing by 10%, France by 12%, The Netherlands and Sweden by 13%, and Denmark is projecting growth between 12-18%. Austria continues to lead the EU in % market share and % organic farming land area. The UK market contracted in 2008 - 2011, and is just stabilising now. The key difference between all the other EU organic markets and the UK is that we have less government support for organic farmers in the UK compared to the rest of the EU.