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The Chairman of the European Union Affairs Committee Kalle Palling said that, in organic farming, the pan-European requirements and rules should be simplified, and bureaucracy should be reduced, in order to attract undertakings to contribute more to this nature-friendlier way of production.

“The obligation to check all undertakings annually should be eliminated, and a risk-based checking should be introduced, which means that undertakings with a greater risk are checked more frequently than the undertakings with a smaller risk,” Palling said. “Simplification of the rules and reduction of bureaucracy would help generate greater consumer trust in organic farming, and encourage enterprises to contribute more to this nature-friendlier way of agricultural production.”

Palling added that, as organic producers are mostly small enterprises, the promotion of organic farming means also contributing to the development of Estonian rural life and small enterprise on a more general scale. “Small producer farmers and organic farming are the motor of rural life,” he said.

At today’s sitting, the European Union Affairs Committee heard the report by Madis Pärtel, the Head of the European Union Affairs Department of the Ministry of Agriculture, about Estonia’s positions at the meeting of the European Union Agriculture and Fisheries Council scheduled for 14 July, where changes in organic farming will be discussed.

In addition to changes in the checking, Estonia also supports the principle that enterprises which cultivate conventional and organic farming simultaneously will have to totally transfer to organic production in the future; however, Estonia thinks that Member States should have the right to make certain exceptions, for example, to enterprises engaging in bee-hive keeping in organic farming. In Estonia, there are relatively few undertakings that engage both in conventional and organic farming – the percentage is 9.4 in crop farming, and 22.3 in animal husbandry and bee-keeping.

Estonia is also of the opinion that the obligation to participate in the checking system should not extend to retailers who market organic products in sales packaging, and that a longer transition period is needed for the termination of current exceptions (introduction of plant propagating material derived from conventional production, and conventional animals, into organic enterprises) which are planned to be repealed by a legislative draft discussed in the Council.

The European Union Affairs Committee is planning to discuss this issue also in the future, because it is a priority issue for Italy who is holding the Presidency of the European Union and where agreements are expected by the end of this year.

The Riigikogu Press Service