The organic sector in the EU has been growing rapidly in the past few years, although organic pig production remains low at just 0.3% of EU-27 output.
The latest figures from the European Commission (EC) show that in 2011, the EU-27 had a total area of 9.6m hectares cultivated according to organic farming rules, up from 5.7m/ha in 2002. While this is seen as a “significant increase” by the EC, the whole organic area represents only 5.4% of the total utilised agricultural area in the EU.
Although the growth in organic production is heavily biased towards permanent pasture (about 45% of the organic area), cereals (around 15%) and permanent crops (about 13%), the EU’s organic animal sector is also reported to be “developing at a fast pace”.
Total organic output in relation to livestock remains small, however, with bovines, sheep and goats each representing about 3% of the EU-27 animal herd. The pork sector, meanwhile, at 0.3%, has the lowest weight in total production.
“This stems partly from the difficulties related to the provision of organic animal feed (compound feed),” said the EC.
Given the observed “upward trend” in organic farming, the EC pointed out that as part of the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy for 2014-2020, a new legal framework for rural development policy provides payments for the conversion to, or for the maintenance of, organic farming under a newly created organic farming measure.
“This new legal framework aims to encourage farmers’ participation in organic farming,” said the EC, “thus responding to society’s increasing demands for the use of environmentally friendly farm practices and for high animal welfare standards.”