The European Commission has adopted the "European Action Plan for Organic Food and Farming", which aims to facilitate the ongoing development of organic farming in the EU.

The plan includes 21 concrete policy measures, put forward by the Commission, such as improving information about organic farming, streamlining public support via rural development, improving production standards or strengthening research.

This plan comes in response to a rapid increase in the number of farmers producing organically and to a strong demand from consumers during the last years. The 1990s witnessed very rapid growth in the sector. In 1985, certified organic production (including areas under conversion) accounted for just 100,000 ha on 6,300 holdings in the EU, or less than 0.1 % of the total utilisable agricultural area. By the end of 2002, this had increased to 4.4 million ha on an estimated 150,000 holdings, or 3.3 % of total agricultural area and 2.3 % of holdings.

"Promoting environmentally friendly quality products is one major objective of the new, reformed Common Agricultural Policy. This is why we want to boost organic farming by stepping up information for consumers, strengthening the control system and improving research," said Franz Fischler, Commissioner for Agriculture, Rural Development and Fisheries.

The Action Plan will be presented at the next Agriculture Council.

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