The demand for organic products is on the rise. However, ecologically valuable areas are increasingly competing with energy crop cultivation, compensation or settlement areas. The StadtLandBio initiative now wants to take countermeasures.
Agricultural enterprises in Germany cultivate about half of the expanse of the Federal Republic – around 16.7 million hectares. A good 70 percent of this is arable land, 28 percent grassland with pasture farming and one percent permanent crops such as viticulture. The total number of agricultural enterprises has fallen continuously in recent years. Especially the small ones with small acreages are disappearing, while the number of large farms with more than 200 hectares is growing.
Sustainable use of land
The increasing consumer demand for organically produced food items influences the number of producers: Last year, 1727 farms and an area of arable land, grassland or permanent crops of more than 150,000 football fields were converted to organic farming – this involved almost five farmers every day. This means that about one in ten farms in Germany is now run by an organic farmer. At present, more than 31,000 organic farms – the number of which had grown by around 20 percent between 2010 and 2016 alone – cultivate around nine percent of the land used for agriculture.
In the course of this trend, of course, additional, ecologically high-quality land is needed, and on a considerable scale. However, this competes with energy crop cultivation, compensation or settlement areas, which are constantly growing. As a result, agricultural land is being lost in Germany year after year. This loss is particularly noticeable in the areas surrounding urban settlements. Other reasons are the increase in forest areas and regional open-cast mining, because afterwards the revegetated areas can only be used for agriculture to a limited extent. This also makes it more difficult to achieve the conversion targets for organic farming (20% in Germany by 2030, 30% in Bavaria).
Discussions with political decision-makers
Representatives from local, state and federal authorities who are committed to more organic farming want to take up these challenges. At the STADTLANDBIO conference, which takes place on 13 and 14 February parallel to BIOFACH/VIVANESS in Nuremberg, they will discuss how politicians can safeguard agricultural land and increase the proportion of land available for regional organic production. The topic “More organic, more region, more future – no organic farming without agricultural land” will therefore be the focus of attention.