Oikos fights government plans to abandon Norway's organic targets

©Nayomiee

Oslo’s government has announced plans to reduce its ambitious organic targets, sparking a backlash from the country's lead organic trade group who advise their government to 'Look to Sweden'.

Just two months after Norway updated its organic regulations, allowing the reopening of organic trade with the EU, the country’s ruling Conservative party has announced its intentions to alter current targets for growing the organic industry.

Along with many other EU nations, Norway set ambitious plans to expand its organic sector before the 2013 elections which saw Erna Solberg’s Conservative party achieve majority rule.

In 2006, the then centre-left government promised a new pro-organic national movement, and set targets for 15% of the country’s food industry to be organic by 2020.

At the time, 30 of Norway’s 426 municipal regions had already achieved 10% organic agriculture, whilst the industry as a whole remained at just 1%, with 4% of its agriculture following organic regulations.

In a statement to parliament earlier this month, the incumbent party announced intentions to abandon these targets in favour of demand-led free trade.

Regine Anderson, executive director of Oikos, Norway’s lead organic body, gave FoodNavigator her take on the announcements:

“The government is a right wing government which believes that the market forces should rule with as little political interference as possible. Thus, it argues that demand should be enough to stimulate the production of organic food, even though it points out that organic production has important benefits for ecosystem services, soil health, and the development of a more sustainable agriculture in Norway.

“The government thinks it is unrealistic to achieve the targets by 2020. Our national audit has pointed out that the reason why it has become unrealistic is that the government has not provided the efforts and financial resources needed to reach the targets. This was heavily criticised in the parliament last year.”

Oikos wrote an open letter to government expressing its discontent with the plans, saying:

This is not even a demand-based policy, and this is the paradox of the government's proposal: Consumers in Norway seek greater range and more accessibility to Norwegian-produced organic food. This will not happen without clear political objectives that give farmers the necessary predictability and longevity for such an investment.

“The government says it will develop a strategy for organic production and consumption. Oikos believes this will not be very meaningful without clear political objectives. When lacking significant constraints and obligations it becomes impossible to measure the government's effectiveness.

Anderson added that the issue is being fiercely debated in parliament and a majority of politicians are opposed to abandoning the 2006 targets.

She reiterated Oikos’ message that the government should pursue a Swedish model for its organic sector. Sweden plans to make 30% of all cropland organic by 2030, and 60% of all food in the public sector organic.

“The action plans leave no doubt that the government is serious about its commitment to organic farming […] There is much to learn from Sweden’s initiative.”

Related News

BioFach 2016 Organic trends, innovations & hot topics

Organic trends, innovations & hot topics: What's the buzz at BioFach?

'The European organic sector continues to be one of our most dynamic production sectors and Chile has great potential in developing opportunities for organic farmers and businesses,' said EU Commissioner Phil Hogan. © iStock

EU and Chile sign landmark organic trade deal

Norwegians increasingly sceptical about organic

Norwegians increasingly sceptical about organic

What is more important: Local or organic?

What is more important: Local or organic?

According to trade association Organic Denmark, 90% of consumers who recognise the state-controlled Ø-mark  say it is a ‘highly trusted’ logo. © iStock

Awareness of state organic logo is 100%, says Danish government

Submit a comment

Your comment has been saved

Post a comment

Please note that any information that you supply is protected by our Privacy and Cookie Policy. Access to all documents and request for further information are available to all users at no costs, In order to provide you with this free service, William Reed Business Media SAS does share your information with companies that have content on this site. When you access a document or request further information from this site, your information maybe shared with the owners of that document or information.