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Farm to Fork: organic dream book?

Compag: "Plan with deep contradictions and difficult to implement"

On the basis of the Community strategy "Farm to Fork", the Commission is working on the definition of an action plan for achieving the objective of 25% of agricultural area destined for organic cultivation by 2030. However - Compag (national federation of agricultural resales) - although inspired by the noblest intentions, this proposal does not appear without profound contradictions and   hardly achievable indications. With this action plan, in fact, we intend to act on demand to stimulate the offer to produce according to criteria of greater respect for the environment, but without taking into account the timing and objectives that are actually feasible.

The action plan is divided into several axes, each consisting of various actions. The first axis requires Member States to intervene to stimulate the consumption of products organic products, for example by promoting their presence in canteens and schools, increasing their traceability and preventing fraud by setting up a database, or by strengthening the role of retailers, wholesalers, catering services, restaurants and other businesses and trying to obtain commitments clear from stakeholders to support and increase the distribution and sale of organic products. The second axis aims to stimulate reconversion and strengthen the entire value chain. But in addition to the transversal problems of agri-food chains, the distribution of organic products can involve high operating costs and an imbalance between supply and demand. Finally, the third axis intends to improve the contribution of organic farming to sustainability in various ways, for example by setting up a pilot network of organic farms with a positive impact on the climate and by sharing best decarbonisation practices, encouraging biodiversity, yield and 'use of organic seeds, promoting the use of alternative plant protection products, improving animal welfare, adopting a framework on organic, compostable and biodegradable plastics, and promoting more efficient and sustainable use of water, greater use of renewable energy and clean transport and the reduction of nutrient release in all agricultural and livestock practices, primarily biological ones.

It is evident, however, that for the moment we do not go beyond the mere list of good intentions, a list destined to miss the objective it sets itself when, inevitably, it collides with reality. Added to this is the lack of precise indications on the measures to be adopted. Then, according to Compag, the contradictions and unattainable objectives present in the plan are numerous and obvious: depriving the organic of copper, for example, means eliminating the main tool for defending crops from various fungal diseases. Agricultural production cannot ignore the use of effective crop protection systems, systems that are already very limited by the current European regulation on organic farming. Eliminating the few weapons already available seems counterintuitive. Replacing the current phytosanitary products with products of a biological nature is unthinkable at the moment: in addition to the fact that a product of biological origin could be as dangerous as chemical products, there is a complete lack of clear indications on the expected times to make these “innovative” plant protection products available.

Currently placing a plant protection product on the market requires at least 10 years and investments of 100 million euros. A not insignificant enterprise, even in the presence of any simplified procedures aimed at favoring organic farming. Already, after years of organic aid, if the areas destined for meadows and pastures are removed, those destined for cereals in marginal areas where treatments are not applied for purely economic reasons (the cost would in fact be higher than the benefit), poplar groves other areas wooded, very little remains. Certainly making additional economic resources available will help, but the research essential to replace the old with the new and the change in the production structure require a long time and results that are certainly not taken for granted.

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EFA News - European Food Agency