Organic farming in Germany continues to grow – but only slowly. The proportion of organically farmed fields and meadows increased slightly to 11.2 percent of the total agricultural area by the end of last year, as the Federal Ministry of Agriculture announced on Wednesday in Berlin. A year earlier it was 10.9 percent. 36,900 farms now operate organically. As a result, their share of all companies increased by 0.2 percentage points to 14.2 percent. The government wants to expand the organic market across the board. The declared goal is an organic area share of 30 percent by 2030.

The Parliamentary State Secretary, Ophelia Nick (Greens), said that switching to eco offers farms an alternative for the future. Therefore, companies would have seized the opportunity to do so even in times of crisis. “With organic, the farms and food manufacturers stay in the villages, which secures valuable jobs and strengthens rural areas.” It is clear that environmental, climate and animal protection should be worthwhile.

There are regional differences

The bottom line was that 57,600 hectares were added last year, which are now managed according to ecological standards – an area the size of around 80,000 football pitches, as the ministry explained. And there are now 605 more organic farms nationwide. There are regional differences. The Saarland has the largest organic share measured in terms of the respective total agricultural area with 20.7 percent, Lower Saxony brings up the rear with 5.8 percent. According to statistics, there are now more than a quarter of organic farmers in the respective federal state in the Saarland, in Baden-Württemberg and in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania.

Whether they switch to organic is a matter of calculation for farmers. In general, the effort involved in mechanical tillage is higher – higher fuel costs for tractors then also have an impact. In this respect, a price difference is still needed, because the production of organic products is significantly more expensive in terms of unit costs, the farmers’ association had explained in principle. At the same time, chemical-synthetic fertilizers and pesticides are taboo at Bio. This has recently made organic farmers less dependent on the enormous jumps in fertilizer prices as a result of the Russian war against Ukraine.

Özdemir relies on canteens, canteens and authorities

Agriculture Minister Cem Özdemir (Greens) wants to boost organic growth with a series of measures – because more organic in the fields also requires growing demand in trade and gastronomy. An important lever should be the communal catering with 17 million diners every day in canteens and canteens of companies, schools, day care centers or authorities. The organic portion of the respective kitchen should soon be recognizable by a logo that can be used voluntarily, in the medal colors gold, silver and bronze. It should be used – also for advertising – also in restaurants and snack bars. The Federal Council should approve the plans this Friday.

In the planned state animal husbandry logo for meat, organic is also intended as a separate, highest level. “This is how we make the services of the supermarket operations visible at a glance,” explained Nick. “And consumers have the opportunity to support organic even better with their purchases.” The new logo is expected to become mandatory at the beginning of 2024, in the first step for pork in retail. A system with five categories is planned when piglets are fattened after rearing – from the minimum legal requirements to organic. The large supermarket chains have also had a form of husbandry logo for a long time.