Review of events

Join Natexpo – France’s international trade show for organic products

23 – 24 September 2018, Eurexpo Lyon, France

The first Natexpo edition to take place in the beautiful city of Lyon was a success, gathering 9,600 professionals from the organic sector.

The lively discussions on food, cosmetics, food supplements, services to shops or innovation between companies, regions, retailers, policy-makers and  organic associations like Natexbio and Synabio, reflected the dynamism of the French organic sector, but also addressed the challenges linked to the rapid growth of the market and to the increasing number of players. They proved the relevance of Natexpo, which has been the biggest organic trade event in France, but which is now also becoming a major international gathering.

IFOAM EU’s Deputy Director and Policy Manager Eric Gall represented IFOAM EU at this year’s edition of Natexpo.


IFOAM EU’s Council meets in Vienna, Austria 

24-25 September, Vienna, Austria

On 24-25 September, the IFOAM EU Council members met in Vienna. They agreed on important political issues and elected the new Chair and Vice-Chairs. 

Hosted in the campus of the University of Vienna, 19 country representatives elected the new IFOAM EU Council Chairs for 2018-2020: 

  • Chair of the Council: Evelyne Alcazar Marin, Ecovalia, Spain
  • Vice Chair of the Council: Dorota Metera, Poland

The two-day meeting was very fruitful. Besides the elections, 31 attendees  form across Europe got informed on a wide range of topics and exchanged on different scenarios for organic food and farming across Europe.


Unfair Trading Practices at the 12th European Organic Congress

25 – 26 September 2018, Vienna, Austria

Right before the final vote in the European Parliament’s Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development (ComAGRI) on the proposal for a Directive on Unfair Trading Practices, this same proposal, as well as its context and its implications, were discussed at the 12th European Organic Congress in Vienna. 

The panel was opened by Fabio Brescacin, CEO of the organic retailer EcoNaturaSi in Italy who stressed the importance of paying farmers a fair price for their produce. Followed Sophie Tack, Board member of the Fair Trade Advocacy Office, who brought the development angle into the discussion, stressing that both producers inside and outside of Europe should be treated fairly. From the European Commission’s side, Oliver Sitar explored the reasoning behind this proposal. Gertraud Grabmann, president of BioAustria welcomed the proposal and highlighted the importance of also addressing market transparency by proposing an effective piece of legislation in this respect. Tomáš Ignác Fénix, President of the European Council of Young Farmers (CEJA), stressed that a proposal addressing the occurrence of unfair trading practices was needed at European level to strengthen the farmers’ position in the food supply chain. 

For an update on the political state of play regarding this legislative proposal, please refer to the political hotspot of this newsletter.

 This event is co-financed by the European Union, under the Executive Agency for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (EASME). The sole responsibility for this communication lies with IFOAM EU. The EASME is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information provided.


The Common Agricultural Policy at the 12th European Organic Congress

25 – 26 September 2018, Vienna, Austria

The 12th European Organic Congress was a timely occasion to discuss the revision of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) for the post-2020 period, as the legislative proposals had been published by the European commission three months before. The CAP discussion took place in two complementary sessions: a plenary with dealing with the political elements of the revision; and a parallel session on the technical aspects of the proposed New Delivery Model and new Green Architecture. In both, speakers explored new opportunities within the CAP proposal and ways to build upon it.

The plenary discussion was composed of a panel of high-level speakers and featured a lively discussion. Director at European Commission DG AGRI, Tassos Haniotis, presented the main features of the proposal, explaining that organic farming was well placed within CAP’s new architecture. The Austrian Secretary General for Agriculture, Josef Plank, welcomed the new flexibility but questioned the potential for additional administrative burden. The Member of the European Parliament, Herbert Dorfmann, welcomed the needed reform but was concerned about the reduced budget for the CAP. IFOAM EU’s President, Jan Plagge, stressed the risk of a race to the bottom in terms of environmental efforts, if a part of the CAP budget is not earmarked for action on the environment and climate change. This prompted a debate on environmental ambition in terms of budget allocations and value for sustainability of the measures that could be supported. Copa-Cogeca’s Secretary General, Pekka Pesonen, highlighted the potential of precision farming.

The parallel session focused on the risks and opportunities of the CAP proposal for organic farming. Organic farmer and chairman of IFOAM EU Farmers group, Laurent Moinet highlighted the potential advantages for organic farming in the newly proposed eco-schemes under pillar I and the possibility to use it as a top up. He also warned about the loose definition of this instrument and the danger that unsustainable techniques may be included. The Institute for European Environmental Policy (IEEP) stressed that while moving to a results-based model is a step in the right direction for a targeted CAP, there are insufficient safeguards to avoid freeriding by Member States. The process and criteria to approve national CAP strategic plans were questioned, as waell as the space to consult civil society.

Both sessions fed directly into IFOAM EU’s advocacy work on the CAP.

This event is co-financed by the European Union, under the Executive Agency for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (EASME). The sole responsibility for this communication lies with IFOAM EU. The EASME is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information provided.


The 12th European Organic Congress – Adding value for farmers, consumers and society through exchange

25 – 26 September 2018, Vienna, Austria

The 12th edition of the European Organic Congress  was a success, gathering over 200 participants from across Europe to exchange ideas during the two-day congress and a full day of excursions.

IFOAM EU organised the Congress in close cooperation with Bio Austria, which took place in the centre of Vienna within the rooms of the historical landmark of Billrothhaus. The congress gathered participants from a wide range of fields, including high-level policy-makers at EU and national level, academia and stakeholders across the organic supply chain including organic farmers, food processors, retailers and competent authorities. 

The programme included over thirty speakers and moderators, divided into four plenary sessions and two breakup parallel sessions. Among the highlights was a lively debate from the plenary session on the revision of CAP, with high-level panellists including a Member of the European Parliament in charge of the report on “the future of food and farming”, a European Commission Director at DG AGRI, and the Secretary General of Austria’s Federal Ministry in charge of agriculture. The plenary on Fair Play and Fair Pay opened with an inspiring keynote speech of organic retailer NaturaSi, speakers then discussed with the current EU proposal to limit unfair trading practices in agriculture including the Council of European Young Farmers, Bio Austria’s president representing the organic sector, the European Commission presenting the proposal and a global perspective from Fair Trade Advocacy Office. The concluding plenary composed of organic entrepreneurs, an economist and a researcher explored new economic approaches that may enable the transition towards a vibrant and sustainable agricultural sector, ranging from short supply chains, to upscaling and new takes on marketing. The president of IFOAM EU closed the two-day conference with a call to keep working and innovating together within the EU and beyond, to uphold the values of organic agriculture and to put organic on every table.

On the third day a well-attended excursion took participants to three organic enterprises in lower Austria. The first stop was at Sonnentor, a local company processing and selling a wide variety of organic teas and herbs which grew to across the world becoming one of Austria’s most successful enterprises. The second visit and lunch were at the Nikolaihof vineyard, which is renowned across the world for its award-winning organic biodynamic wines. The day ended with an excursion in the Farm of Alfred Grand, who experiments with innovative farming techniques and equipment to farm arable crops, as well as producing composts with earthworms.

IFOAM EU will welcome you in the summer of 2019 for the 13th edition of the EOC to discuss the latest markets and regulatory developments of the organic sector.

This event is co-financed by the European Union, under the Executive Agency for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (EASME). The sole responsibility for this communication lies with IFOAM EU. The EASME is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information provided.


Discussing the revision of the Common Agricultural Policy in the European Parliament

10 October 2018, Brussels, Belgium

Discussion on the new CAP regulation & the environment. Credit photo: Eric Gall

IFOAM EU organised an event “How can the Common Agricultural Policy help farmers do more for the environment” in the European Parliament on 10 October. Member of the European Parliament (MEP) and Shadow Rapporteur responsible for the CAP revision Maria Noichl hosted the event.

The event gathered experts from the European Parliament, the European Commission, organic farmers and NGOs to discuss how the ongoing CAP revision can play a crucial role in boosting eco-entrepreneurship in the farming sector. The European Commission services for the environment and agriculture introduced the key features of the proposal’s green architecture, with a focus on eco-schemes and rural development. Jan Plagge, IFOAM EU’s President, presented the new CAP position paper of the organic movement, mentioning the need to raise the environmental ambition in the policy. Hans Bartelme talked about his experience with CAP payments as a full-time organic farmer, and called for a policy that allows farmers to take their own decisions and which rewards ambitious environmental practices.

During the discussion, session participants mentioned the importance of strong conditionality rules applying to all farmers, the need to better define agricultural measures eligible under eco-schemes to avoid “green plating” and a stronger governance structure setting rules on what is allowed under national strategic plans.

Members of the European Parliament will work on the CAP dossier at Committee level during the coming months up to the European elections of May 2019, and it is expected to continue under the new parliament thereafter. IFOAM EU will continue following each step of the revision.


Seeds in the new organic regulation, IFOAM EU present at conference at the European Parliament

16 October 2018, Brussels, Belgium

Panel of the event ‘Seeds in the new organic regulation’ at the European Parliament. Photo credit: Pauline Verriere

Arche Noah organised an event in the European Parliament to discuss the new provisions on seeds in the new organic regulation. Topics of discussion at the event were organic heterogenous material, and an outlook on organic varieties. 

IFOAM EU talked about the availability of organic seeds, and presented first results of the LIVESEED project. The conference participants showed keen interest to participate in the project and in the upcoming farmers’ survey. 

The presentation was followed by vivid exchange with Arche Noah and Copa-Cogeca. Common understanding of the current situation and the need to improve the availability and usage or organic seed became clear.  DG Sante announced that a stakeholder consultation will take place for developing the delegated act on organic heterogenous material. MEPs Martin Hausling and Eric Andrieu called on the Commission to respect the intention of the EP to allow organic farmers to use more genetically diverse plant reproductive material, and to not restrict the new possibilities offered by the new organic regulation.

Re-watch the conference ‘Seed in the new organic regulation’.


EIP-AGRI Seminar: From Operational Group project to impact

17-18 October 2018, Spoleto, Italy

IFOAM EU has participated in the EIP-AGRI Seminar: ’From Operational Group project to impact’. The seminar took place in Spoleto, Italy 17-18 October 2018. The event was hosted by Umbria Region in collaboration with the Italian National Rural Network and the Italian Ministry of Agricultural, Food, Forestry Policies and Tourism (MiPAAFT). 

Participants had the chance to listen good practices and to discuss current issues, such as simplification, reporting and dissemination of results in the EIP-AGRI implementation. Further more field visits were organized to get inspiration and learn from different Operational Groups of the region. For more info visit: 

The 12th EIP-AGRI Subgroup on Innovation Meeting started right after the seminar. Calls for the next EIP-AGRI focus groups, workshops and seminars for 2019 were addressed. The Call for the 5 new focus groups will be launched in March, covering varying themes. A Summit on agroecology (similar as the Agri-Innovation Summit in Lisbon 2017) will take place in June 2019, in France. The exact dates and program will be launched later.

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