The organic movement’s vision for food and farming is one of a fair, environmentally conscious, healthy and caring system widely adopted in Europe by 2030. How do we make it happen? What are the successful strategies that will bring us closer to our shared organic vision?
These pages offer an organic roadmap to sustainable food systems in Europe. This roadmap is the result of extensive discussions led by IFOAM EU in its collective vision and strategy process in 2014–2016. Only through joint efforts of farmers, processors, traders, policy makers and citizens will it be possible to achieve our vision. The strategies in this roadmap need to be adapted to the diverse governance, economic, social and environmental contexts of food and farming in Europe.
We invite you to start – or continue! – taking the road to shape the food systems that we want
in Europe and beyond. Let’s make our organic vision a reality!
Policy makers and citizens widely recognise the contributions of organic and promote it
Citizens continue to choose organic food and have easy access to it
Organic and agro-ecological practices are employed on more than half of EU farmlands
To transform food and farming successfully, high quality food must become more widely available. This can be achieved by increasing production, while also raising the level of recognition among consumers and policymakers of the economic, environmental and social benefits provided by organic production.
To make this happen, the organic sector needs to reach out to food and farming actors working both within and beyond organic. Engaging with conventional farmers, community leaders, citizens’ initiatives, companies and NGOs dealing with sustainability, as well as with schools, chefs and health advocates, will ensure the recognition and support needed in order to put organic food on every table. Creating links with these actors requires improvements in the way we communicate, and the use of diverse channels to tell the story of the benefits of organic food for society and ecosystems.
The success of organic food and farming also depends on their economic viability. This means that farmers, companies and the whole value chain need to invest to increase the production capacity, to support conversions and raise the profitability of organic, and to reduce the dependence on subsidies.
Policymakers also play a key role. A lot can be achieved with appropriate incentives and coherent policies to support the ecological and social services that farmers provide. One example would be to change the focus of the CAP to ensure fundamental support for farmers whose approaches inherently work towards the socioeconomic and environmental sustainability of their farms, their regions and the citizens. Moreover, through the choices made in the canteens of schools and hospitals, and in the catering for offices and restaurants, public bodies and the private sector alike also play a vital role in shaping how we eat. Finally, access to land is critical for the development of sustainable farming. We need policies that address the phenomenon of land grabbing, limit land concentration, foster generational renewal and support new farmers.
Organic food & farming systems are resilient, continuously improve their performance & inspire change
A paradigm shift in knowledge, education and learning reconnects society with food & farming
Organic contributes to delivering healthy & sustainable diets
Organic farming and production work with nature to achieve the best possible results for people, animals and the planet. A systems perspective and a spirit of continuous improvement are inherent parts of the organic model, making it a key driver of transformation. To inspire further change in our food and farming systems, organic producers need to continue reducing the use of resources at all levels, while increasing productivity, recycling and reusing inputs, improving animal health and welfare, and avoiding waste. As processed food plays an ever bigger role in our lifestyles, organic actors also need to improve the quality of such foods, using healthier recipes and adopting minimal processing techniques. By promoting greater consumption of plant proteins and fewer, better quality animal products, the organic sector will contribute to healthier diets with a smaller carbon footprint. There is a direct link between improved performance in organic systems and increased know-how for organic food production. Therefore, organic food and farming actors need to get actively involved in research and innovation projects, and to share their knowledge across the value chain and all around Europe.
To close the knowledge gap that exists between organic and conventional food production, policy-makers need to provide more funding for organic research and innovation. Such research should be based on participatory, system-oriented approaches. There is also a need to develop formal education and advisory systems with an organic focus, to ensure the spread of practical knowledge and skills.
Policymakers need to develop and implement organic action plans that enable organic actors to improve and innovate, and inspire others to follow suit. Finally, the thorough transformation of our food and farming systems can only happen if there is complete coherence between all policies related to food and farming, health, education and the environment.
Farmers and workers are paid fairly: value and power are equally distributed across the system
New business models and communications foster trust between all actors
The environmental, social and public health costs and benefits of farming are reflected in payments to farmers and in the cost of food
It is a good time to be organic. Never before has the market been as big, nor has it grown as rapidly. But while the sector begins to expand beyond the niche market, the supply chain actors must retain their organic spirit and should play a role in finding solutions for fairer and more transparent food systems. They should do so in cooperation with entrepreneurs and economic actors outside the sphere of food and farming. For food systems to be transparent and fair, all actors need to work together to ensure that value and power are fairly distributed among all the operators in the system, and that the costs and benefits of food production are accounted for. In the organic sector, a continuous dialogue between producers, traders, certifiers and distributors would benefit the whole chain. There is a need for business models and supply chains that generate more added value for the primary producers, and which connect citizens with producers – both physically and virtually. The organic sector should also capitalise on technological developments, such as the Internet of things or block-chain technology, which promise to greatly enhance transparency about the origin, true value and production methods of food we buy.
Policymakers also play an important part in maintaining balance in the value chains. Accommodating the costs and bene ts of food production is complicated. It can be done in various ways, such as taxes on pesticides and fertilisers, or rewards for bene cial environmental practices. Europe needs to develop and adopt a basic set of key indicators showing the impacts on soil quality, water use, waste production, energy and suchlike. A conducive environment for sustainable food and farming also depends on the availability of information on production and market trends, as this helps inform future investments. Policymakers must create incentives to encourage operators to exchange price and production data. At the same time, promoting local approaches, such as community-supported agriculture, bio-districts and city food networks, will encourage rural revival and build trust in the food systems.