What is organic farming?
- Producing organic
Organic farming is a way of producing food that respects natural life cycles. It minimises the human impact on the environment and operates as naturally as possible.
Organic farming is part of an extensive supply chain, which also includes food processing, distribution and retailing.
- International trade in organics
As with any food, organic produce is often sourced from other regions or countries, and may come from outside the EU altogether. While organic farmers and processors generally prefer to sell their products as nearby as possible, some products simply cannot be produced everywhere because of climate or geography. The EU produces some of the world’s most sought-after delicacies. As these products are increasingly made from organic ingredients, the EU seeks to ensure that exporters can access foreign markets without encountering barriers to trade.
How to become an organic producer in the EU?
The most important starting point is to adhere to the principles of organic farming. Council Regulation (EC) No 834/2007 and Commission Regulation (EC) No 889/2008 lay down the basic rules that organic farmers have to apply.
As organic farming is soil related, you need to acquire or rent an agricultural land in order to become an organic farmer. Organic production requires commitment and knowledge, therefore it is recommended to have some training for this type of agriculture.
Organic farming is an overall system to manage a farm and produce food, while ensuring the following: best environmental practices, high level of biodiversity, the preservation of natural resources, high animal welfare standards. These are the main principles that have to be translated into concrete production methods such as multi-annual crop rotations, the use of livestock manure as a fertiliser and growing only what the farm can naturally yield. It is also essential to encourage natural resistance to pests and diseases in both crops and livestock. It is encouraged to have suitable habitats for the benefit of the animals to help control pests in a natural way. It is also important to provide access to quality feed and free-range pasture to maintain the health of the animals.
Before starting the organic activity the competent agricultural authority in the Member State can provide information which support measures are available and give advice in general.
It is also important to contact a control body of organic farming in the respective Member State. They can provide more detailed information for the particular segment of organic farming you are planning to engage in. The control bodies are entitled to run control on each organic farm and investigate whether the production is according to the standards. Organic farmers are controlled once a year to make sure that the rules are respected and if they are, the products may bear the organic logo of the European Union. There are two years of conversion period in organic farming before a product can be marketed as organic.
The legal requirements set out in the EU Regulation offer a guarantee that organic products respect all the rules.
Picture credit: European Commission