A quarter of EU farmland will be devoted to organic farming by 2030, according to the EU’s biodiversity strategy, which was released today, Wednesday, May 20.
The goal, according to the strategy, is to maintain productivity; increase soil fertility and biodiversity; and reduce the footprint of food production.
“Organic farming in particular has great potential for farmers and consumers. The sector creates jobs and attracts young farmers, ”notes the strategy.
Organic farming also provides 10-20% more jobs per hectare than conventional farms, and creates added value for agricultural products.
“To make the most of this potential, at least 25% of the EU’s agricultural land must be cultivated organically by 2030.”
According to Eurostat, the statistical body of the European Commission, 7.5% of agricultural land in the EU was cultivated organically in 2018. In the same year, only 2.6% of agricultural land in Ireland was specifically cultivated. organic.
To achieve this change, the committee will use measures from the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), as well as an “action plan” on organic farming.
In addition to increasing the amount of land cultivated organically, the EU will also seek to increase protected land in the EU to 30% of all land – up from 26% currently – by 2030.
The change would include an increase in land under strict protection to 10% by 2030. Currently, 3% of EU land is strictly protected.
Member States will be responsible for designating additional protected and strictly protected areas. These designations should either help to complete the Natura 2000 network, or be part of national protection schemes.
This year, the commission will propose criteria and guidelines on the identification of lands to be protected. The “greening” of urban areas, including cities, can also contribute to these goals.
High diversity landscape features
In addition to the increase in land under protection, at least 10% of the area of the EU farmland specifically will be designated as “high diversity landscape elements”.
These zones would include, inter alia, buffer strips; rotating fallows or not; hedges; non-productive trees; terrace walls; and ponds.
Progress against this target will be “under constant review”, and the target may be adjusted to mitigate the undue impact on biodiversity, food security and the competitiveness of farmers.
The EU’s goal by 2030 is to eliminate pollution from nitrogen and phosphorus flows from fertilizers.
The strategy will seek to reduce nutrient losses by at least 50%, while ensuring that there is no deterioration in soil fertility.
This will result in a reduction of at least 20% in the use of fertilizers. The nutrient load reductions for each Member State will be identified.
The commission will work with member states to develop an ‘integrated nutrient management action plan’ in 2022.
These fertilizer provisions go hand in hand with the EU’s farm-to-fork strategy, which was also released today.
To reverse what is described as the “alarming decline” in some species of birds and insects, the strategy calls for a 50% reduction in overall chemical pesticide use – and the risks associated with – chemical pesticides in the world. by 2030, which is also in line with the goal of the farm-to-fork strategy.
Concretely, a 50% reduction will apply to the use of pesticides deemed to be more dangerous, as part of the 50% reduction in the use of all pesticides.
The commission emphasized that the baseline for percentage reduction targets for pesticides and fertilizers (as well as antimicrobials) will be based on the most recent data available – for example, the commission said the latest data on antimicrobial use had been gathered in 2018.