Future options for organic farming policy support in Europe

Policy support has been very important for the development of organic farming in Europe since the 1990s. Measures include regulations defining organic in the marketplace, support payments for organic conversion and maintenance, and action plans aimed at integrating market and rural development support. Such support has been justified in terms of the environmental and other societal benefits delivered, as well as the economic benefits of the market for organic food. While the evidence for public benefits from organic farming is clear and increasing, the mechanisms for rewarding these benefits have been focused, as other agri-environment measures, on income foregone and costs incurred. With the introduction of a new CAP, involving Member State Strategic Plans and Ecoschemes, the focus of policy is shifting to results. This paper explores the implications of the for future organic farming support, including how public benefits from complex, multi-functional systems can be identified, quantified and valued at an affordable cost.

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