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france news

Beef cattle of the organic experimental farm of Thorigné d’Anjou – June 2017 (meeting Optialibio project)


Since 2010, France knows an increase of organic agriculture, which has continued till 2018. Several organizations and stakeholders are involved in organic farming: producers, researchers, teachers, advisors, processors...


Organic French figures

The French organic observatory’s figures produced by the Agence BIO show that, on December 31st, 2017, 54,044 operators were engaged in organic farming in France, what’s representing + 14.7% in one year. Of these operators, 36,691 are producers, bringing the share of French farms engaged in organic farming to 8.3%. French organic surfaces reach 1.78 million hectares, which corresponds to 6.59%. The processing, distribution or import companies represented 17,353 operators of which: 12,286 transformers; 4,783 distributors; 284 importers. The consumption of organic products continues to grow. In 2017, the market for organic food products reached more than 8.3 billion euros, an increase of 17% in one year.



In 2017, it is estimated that organic trades account for almost 134,500 direct jobs (jobs in organic farms and those related to processing and distribution activities). While agricultural employment fell at an average annual rate of -1.1% between 2010 and 2015, employment in organic agricultural production increased by 10,669 full-time jobs between 2017 and 2016, representing +13%.



Some crops are well developed in organic agriculture: organic dried vegetables surface represent 27.9% of total surface in this production; organic fruits 19.8%; aromatic and medicinal plants 19.5%; vineyard 10% and forage fields 9.4%. On the contrary, some crops are not developed too much, in particular fresh vegetables (6.1%) and cereals (3.4%). 




In the continuity of 2016, the development of organic farms has remained strong and concerns all species in 2017.


The part of organic livestock compared to the total of French livestock is 4.93% for cows (4.53% for beef cows et 5.40% for dairy cows), 7.09% for sheep, 7.75% for goats, 1.07% for porks. Organic broilers represent 1.40% of the total and poultry hens 10.11%.


Public policy


The first plan for the organic farming development began in 1998 and several plans followed. Since 2008, these plans concern large area: producers, advisors, teachers, researchers, processors… These plans played a role in the organic farming development, as the strong demand for consumption and as the several organizations and stakeholders working in organic farming. In June, The French Minister of Agriculture and Food presented the new plan for organic farming development “Ambition Bio 2022 Program”, which has a budget of 1.1 billion euros and is organized into 7 major axes:


  • Axis 1: Develop production to reach the 15% of French agricultural area cultivated in organic by 2022;
  • Axis 2: Structure the sectors via the “Avenir Bio” Fund; Currently endowed with 4 million euros, the Future Bio Fund will be increased by 2 million euros from 2018;
  • Axis 3: Develop consumption and support the supply of organic products for all consumers, including the poorest and most vulnerable publics; In addition to the goal of 20% bio in public catering by 2022, a common desire of organic stakeholders is to encourage the offer in collective and commercial catering;
  • Axis 4: Redefining research priorities;
  • Axis 5: Train the actors;
  • Axis 6: Adapt the regulations; On January 1st, 2021, a new European regulation will be applicable;
  • Axis 7: Organic farming in the French overseas territories.



Several organizations are involved in organic researches (technical Institutes in agriculture, national research centers…). 


At the end of 2017, in the National institute of agronomy research (INRA) transformed its AgriBio program into the 9th metaprogram of INRA. While the other 8 metaprograms were created in 2011, AgriBio is entering its 18th year.


Link to recent Agribio projects :

Two theses start in this context: - Operation and evaluation of diversified production systems in organic agriculture: references for the agro-ecological transition (UMRH); - Conditions for linking the greening of agriculture and food in the context of just sustainable development (SAD, Ecodevelopment).


Inra is also involved in European Core Organic call. Link to Inra’s projects into Core Organic + (2015-2018):


The French Organic farming technical institute (ITAB) will co-supervise another INRA thesis: "Design combinations of cropping systems at the farm level to manage soil health". The ITAB is involved in several research in organic farming, concerning crops and livestock, seeds and biodiversity, quality, processing… In 2017, ITAB was involved into 62 research projects, including 8 European projects.


ITAB Lab, created in 2017, is an association for research and innovation Bio. It is a collective of actors (Pôle agriculture biologique Massif Central, GRAB Avignon,IBB…) committed to research and innovation, coordination and capitalization of knowledge in AB (Pôle agriculture biologique Massif Central, GRAB Avignon,IBB…).


At the beginning of 2018, ITAB and ABioDoc, the French documentary centre specialized in organic farming, edited a bibliographic review on French technical-economic references in organic agriculture  


Some experimental farms are only or for part in organic farming : Thorigné d’Anjou (Pays de la Loire), Ferme des Bordes (Limousin), Ferme de Trévarez (Bretagne), Laqueuille (Auvergne) … managed by a technical institute, an agricultural chamber, the national agronomic research institute…

Several agricultural high schools have a farm or a part of their farm in organic farming, some time with a experimental station like P.A.I.S in Suscinio Higt school. Some private farms shelter experimental station, like Reine Mathilde plateforme in Normandy (farm is GAEC Gilbert).


French research examples in organic farming:


Salamix (June 2015 - May 2018), INRA, funded under the AgriBio 4 program.

The project consists in setting up an experiment based on the comparison of three farming systems producing meat from grassland resources (permanent meadows in mountain areas). It is a question of studying the interest of the sheep / cattle mix, in comparison with specialized sheep or cattle systems, in terms of finished meat production and quality, performance and animal health, grassland production, farmer work and environmental impacts. The project is conducted on the Inra site of Laqueuille (Massif Central), which is being converted to the AB.


Optialibio (Oct 2014 – June 2018), Idele (Tehnical institute in animal husbandry): this project (Optimization of autonomy and resistance to climatic hazards of organic cattle farming systems) aimed to produce references and tools to strengthen the adaptation capacities of organic cattle systems to climate hazards by improving their autonomy food.


Covalience: Co-design of management tools and assessment of cross-pollination selection for local adaptation and resilience of agro-ecosystems: case of maize (ITAB, CASDAR funds, 2018-2021).


Bt ID-1528: Tools for identifying, tracing and controlling Bacillus Thuringiensis contamination from fork to fork (Casdar 2015-2019, ITAB).


Resilait: Resilience of organic dairy systems; optimization of competitiveness factors and development of more efficient systems for future risk management (Casdar funds, 2016 - 2019 ITAB / IDELE, technical Institutes of animal breeding and of Organic farming).


French participation to European projects in organic farming examples:

Liveseed: Developing seeds and organic breeding in Europe (H2020, 2017-2021)

Diversifood: Enrich the diversity of cultivated plants through a multi-stakeholder approach to increase the performance and resilience of different agro-ecosystems, and develop new healthy and tasty products (EU, 2015-2019)


EcoOrchard (2015-2017) Innovative design and management to boost functional biodiversity of organic orchards, a Core Organic project

The Finnish organic food system has had the same development phases as many other countries producing or consuming organic food, but the current volume of production and the market share is lagging severely behind the best-performing European Union countries. Finnish authorities set several development programmes with quantitative goals for the growth of the organic sector, the latest for 2020.

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The Organic 3.0 approach does challenge us a lot in the organic world, including science. It is a good frame for the new approach: going together to solve future challenges in food security and safety
in context of the Sustainable Development Goals.

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Author: Dr Jaakko Nuutila, Natural Resources Institute Finland, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.,">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.,This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


finnishThe Finnish organic food system has had the same development phases as many other countries producing or consuming organic food, but the current volume of production and the market share is lagging severely behind the best-performing European Union countries. Finnish authorities set several development programmes with quantitative goals for the growth of the organic sector, the latest for 2020.


The consumers’ growing interest toward organically produced food enabled the mainstream retailers to increase their assortment of organic products, providing consumers better access to organic products.


Until 2010 the organic products were mainly considered as “service products” for demanding consumers. Positive market development in Nordic countries and consumers increased interest in Finland as well. The consumers, who buy the most organic products, also buy them more often from specialty shops and directly from the farms.


Organic farms and production

In 2017 the share of organic from total agricultural area was 11.7 % with an increase of 10 % from 2016 and the largest shares were in North Karelia, Kainuu, South Savonia and North Ostrobothnia (27.1%, 24.1%, 15.8% and 14.9%, respectively). The average farm size was 56.8 ha and the number of organic farms was 4,641. There were 83 other companies in primary production, such as greenhouses, beehives and mushroom cultivation. The largest share of farmland was for grass and for oats (65% and 15%, respectively). Other plants were rye, wheat, barley, peas, fava beans and turnip rape. Animal production was concentrated in 2016 on bovines: under 8 months old (561 farms), heifers (538 farms), calvers (504 farms), bovines (538 farms), sheep (344 farms), hens (48 farms) and beehives (63 farms). There were minor amounts of farms with pigs, poultry and broiler chickens. Finland has the largest organic certified wild collection area in the world. Where forests cover 86% of the land area in Finland, approximately half of that (13 M ha) is certified organic area. There are 37 edible berries and lingonberry, bilberry and cloudberry have the highest commercial value. Only a small share of wild mushrooms is utilized commercially.


Organic consumer markets

The development of the organic market has been rapid during the last years, The organic market in Finland was worth 273 million euros in 2016 and trade specialists evaluate that organic food sales will have increased to 410 million euros by 2020. The market share of organic products is 2%, but varies greatly between product categories. When the retail companies dominate

the markets and widen the food margin they, on the other hand, enable an efficient distribution of organic products around the country



Governmental goal for year 2020


The current government programme aims at a 20% organic share of agricultural land, sufficient production for domestic markets, tripled organic markets in comparison to 2013 and 10% organic share in 2015 and 20% organic share in governmental catering by 2020 (MMM 2014). The aim of the current programme is to produce products that are not harmful to the environment or to the welfare and health of humans, plants and animals (MMM 2014). The same arguments have been presented in other programmes also.


The earlier goals have not been reached and following the current development trend, it is highly unlike that the current goals could be reached either. In the current government goal for the year 2020, the share of organic agriculture area is set to 20%. The increase from 2016 to 2017 was 10 %, but to reach the goal, a 19.6 % annual increase is still needed for the remaining years. The market development shows as well the increasing trend, although it has been slower than expected. The goal set for the organic markets from year 2014 to 2020, with the current development trend, requires an annual increase of 25.5 % for the remaining years.


The future growth of organics in Finland


With its Nordic location and pure nature, Finland offers exeptional facilities for superior organic production leading to excellent organic export opportunities. To meet the current official and future organic development goals the several obstacles and challenges found in various areas of the Finnish food system have to be discussed openly and addressed. Multi-disciplinary research is needed to recognize the phenomena behind various reasons for slow development of the organic in the whole value chain. It is crucial to have the courage to change the model for providing information about externalities of food systems from subjective to science-based. Food chain-level collaboration is needed to enhance agreement to mutual rules and fairness of the activity of the food system. During 2018 the Finnish organic action plan will be updated. This will provides a good opportunity for multi-stakeholder discussions about the vision and measures for Finland to reach Organic 3.0.


The Organic 3.0 approach does challenge us a lot in the organic world, including science. It is a good frame for the new approach: going together to solve future challenges in food security and safety in context of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Dear members and friends of ISOFAR

As president of ISOFAR, director of the Thuenen-Institute of Organic farming and world board member of IFOAM-Organic International I am working on fund raising for "Organic Knowledge Centers in Africa", "German policy target: 20% Organic" and others. I support action groups in the design of concepts, recently for "True Cost Accounting", ”socio-economic" and "agro-ecology". I still travel a lot and try to promote "Organic Tricks" (like healthy farmer seeds and breeding livestock, intelligent crop rotation, organic pest control, high soil fertility, low water pollution, climate adaptation and mitigation, livestock-crop integration and interaction, nutrient management, food chain traceability and integrity measures, and last but not least fair working and income from producer to consumers) as part of the solution for food security and safety (we call it "plan B").


I know that all my colleagues from the ISOFAR board are active like me. That makes me proud.

Nevertheless, Organic researchers are still isolated and ignored in their competence in many parts of the academic world. I know, we all need more recourses and respect. Organic farming research has not a fair share of the resources. ISOFAR cannot give money, but is a platform to promote our competence and argues for resources. This is always a difficult and slow motion action, but worthy. We all should not be ashamed to ask "give me money". As long as others have more. 


Communication of our results and ideas is possible in scientific papers. Our Journal of Organic Agriculture is growing well; we have already 225 accepted papers. Every year we receive 160 new manuscripts and an extended group of editors (27 scientists) does review them for scientific quality. This quality assurance is important to avoid the image of ideology and "wished results" for Organic research. Open source publications make us the world not easy. Many of them offer fast and problem-free publication of results. But the quality is very often not okay and the image of such papers is decreasing. We work in ISOFAR on quality, together with Springer publisher. You as member of ISOFAR help to make this possible.


I wish all of you a good time at your work and with your families and friends, to make our world better - with science.


gerold rahmann


Prof. Dr. Gerold Rahmann


President of ISOFAR


Argentina is one of the leading countries in certified organic production and have strict official regulations for organic production. Consumers worldwide demand more healthy products for the population and the environment well-being. This offers the possibility of a great future for organic agriculture that must be accompanied by research and extension in the field.

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