Portugal’s farmers switch to ‘organic land’ classification
The total organic farming area in Portugal has grown 22% in just four years, according to data released today by Eurostat. Between 2012 and 2016, Portugal recorded an increase of 45,000 hectares of land now classified as 'organic.'
As at the end of 2016, Portugal had 245,052 hectares of certified organic farm land, including land that has been converted to organic agricultural production from chemical-rich and additive-heavy farming.
The amounts sound high but the percentage is low, with just 6.75% of Portugal’s total agricultural area classified as organic.
Portugal’s percentage is at the EU average of 6.7%, where Germany and Greece also sit, but it’s Austria that leads the movement with 21% of its farmland now classified as organic.
The organic farming sector is ‘consumer driven’ reads the report, leading to the total organic area increasing by two million hectares in the EU since 2012 with 295,600 farmers involved, as at the end of 2016.
The big producers are Spain, Italy, France and Germany represent 54% of the total organic agricultural area in the EU. The UK and the Netherlands, two of the main consumer markets for organic farming, sit way below the average for ‘land dedicated to organic production’ at 2.8% and 2.9% respectively.
Eurostat points out that the importance of agriculture and organic livestock farming is “generally lower in flat regions where intensive production systems – with the addition of more fertilisers and pesticides – prevail.”
‘Organic’ classification, as defined by the EU, must comply with a 2007 set of rules covering the use of chemicals in soil and in animal feed, the reduction of the impact of production on the soil, water and air and avoiding genetically modified crops.
With an all-important EU vote coming up for the continued licensing of Monsanto’s glyphosate brand, Roundup, the EU’s commitment to organic production soon will be tested for real. A vote earlier in November saw 37% of EU countries in favour on extending Roundup’s licence for ten years with Portugal abstaining.
A formal decision has been ‘delayed’ until the end of November as to approve the continued use of glyphosate, the Commission has to record a positive vote from a 55% majority of states representing 65% of the EU population of the EU.
As the first vote was not the result that Monsanto wanted, the Commission has obliged and will have another one.
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