Organic farming must grow, EU says

·1-min read

The European Commission will expand financial and policy support to help achieve a goal for a quarter of Europe's farmland to be organic by 2030.

Agriculture produces roughly 10 per cent of EU greenhouse gas emissions and is on the front line of climate change impacts, with record heatwaves and prolonged droughts reducing some European crop yields.

Organic farmland, which restricts chemical pesticides, synthetic fertilisers and genetically modified organisms, has expanded more than 60 per cent over the past decade to nearly 9 per cent of the European Union's agricultural area.

The Commission on Thursday outlined plans to speed up this expansion and stir demand for organic products, which it said would help the EU reach its goal to eliminate net emissions by 2050.

Reaching a 25 per cent organic share of farmland this decade would also protect bees and biodiversity, it said.

Agriculture emits nitrous oxide from use of artificial fertilisers, while livestock produces potent planet-warming methane.

By curbing fertilisers, organic farming can cut emissions, although it does not necessarily tackle emissions from livestock, and lower crop yields associated with organic farming can mean more land is required, denting potential emissions savings.

The EU will spend 49 million euros ($A76.24 million) opromoting organic products this year, 27 per cent of its total budget for promoting EU agricultural products at home and abroad.

The Commission said the EU's farming subsidy program, which is being reformed, will offer farmers 38-58 billion euros over 2023-2027 for eco-schemes, including organic production.

Organic food and farming organisation IFOAM welcomed the EU plan as "a new era for the transformation of our food systems".