“The support policy for organic farming led by the Ministry of Agriculture has ambitious objectives, without the allocation of sufficient resources”, denounces the Court.
Despite an upward reassessment of aid for organic production in 2015, within the framework of the CAP, encouraging conversions, “the envelopes initially associated with these schemes quickly proved to be insufficient to meet the needs and led the regions to cap this aid”, notes the Court.
Aid for organic farming essentially depends on two aids from the CAP, one dedicated to conversion, the other to maintaining organic farming, and are paid in addition to traditional aid.
These aids represent in fact “less than 3%” of the total budget of the CAP of France. The Court of Auditors also notes that more than a quarter of organic farms do not benefit from any aid from the CAP, while 80% of farms received a payment in 2019.
According to the institution, however, organic farms benefit from aid which is on average “nearly 1.6 times” higher than that received by conventional farms.
However, the Court considers that the government’s decision in 2017 to end aid for maintaining organic “helped to slow down conversions in 2020 and could in the future weaken existing organic farms”.
France has not achieved the objectives it had set for organic farming, i.e. to reach 15% of useful agricultural areas (UAA) and 20% of public collective catering in organic by 2022.
In 2021, the country has 10.3% of organic surface. On the collective catering component, the result is estimated “between 5 and 6%”, for lack of “support strategy” and “monitoring tools until recently”.
On a European scale, the objective is to devote at least 25% of agricultural land to organic farming by 2030.
In its response, the government recalls that France is still the European champion “in number of hectares of agricultural area certified in organic farming”.
To succeed in doubling the areas in organic farming, the government is pointing to the new programming of the National Agricultural and Rural Development Program (PNDAR) for the period from 2022 to 2027.
Thus, “340 million euros per year on average will be devoted solely to aid for the conversion to organic farming, which corresponds to an unprecedented reinforcement of 90 million euros” additional per year.