The BIO AUSTRIA Farmers’ Days kicked off on 19 January with a fascinating discussion on the next Common European Agricultural Policy (CAP). Under the motto of “Shaping the organic future with confidence”, the largest further education event in organic agriculture was held this year as a purely online format. The fact that this did not put off members of the public was evident in the more than 1,000 registrations received for the eight expert days and the opening day.

In her opening statement, Gertraud Grabmann, Chairwoman of BIO AUSTRIA and organic farmer, addressed the next CAP. “To implement the necessary transformation of Europe towards climate neutrality, all sectors need to make an effort. The agricultural sector must also be ambitious here. But what is clear that this can only succeed if Europe’s farmers receive remuneration for the services they provide for the environment, climate and biodiversity,” Grabmann stressed.

No resting on our laurels

However, she added that it was important not to rest on our laurels and consider the payments from the CAP as a whole as compensation for this. Rather, the performance principle, which is often cited in other areas, should also apply here: “The more services farmers provide in the areas mentioned, the higher the remuneration should be,” said Grabmann. In particular, the added value of organic farming through its multifunctionality should be taken into account, Grabmann stressed, referring to the national CAP implementation plan in Austria.

BIO AUSTRIA and the Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Regions and Tourism (BMLRT) had developed different positions on the future role of organic farming in the national implementation of the CAP. Criticism was expressed that the current state of planning of the BMLRT only provided for a “management supplement” specifically for organic farming in the future as part of the “Environmentally Friendly and Biodiversity-Promoting Management” measure under the Austrian Programme for Environmentally Sound Agriculture framework.

In BIO AUSTRIA’s view, this does not adequately take into account what organic farming actually delivers. Substantial changes need to be made as organic agriculture is more topical than ever as a result of the answers it provides to the great environmental challenges of the present. Reducing organic to a “management supplement” would make it less attractive for farmers in the future. This would be an enormous step backwards in and for domestic agricultural policy as well as for the sustainability of agriculture..

To learn more about the work of BIO AUSTRIA, visit the BIO AUSTRIA website.

Image attribution: Pixabay