The development of organic agriculture in Europe is mainly driven by consumer demand for organic products and policy support through area payments and standard setting through regulations. The policy challenge therefore is to achieve a balanced policy mix recognising governmental policy support on the one side and the market mechanisms for yielding premium prices. Action Plans are suitable policy instruments to address and integrate different and sometimes conflicting policy measures. In 2004, the European Action Plan for Organic Food and Farming was published by the European Commission. The action plan takes up very important issues for the further development of organic farming standards through EC Reg. 2092/91, stresses the importance of information provision to both organic actors and consumers and thus sets a baseline for balanced 'push' and 'pull' strategies. However, there is no consideration of interaction of organic farming with main parts of the CAP, nothing about how, by when and on the basis of which resources the suggested actions should be implemented. Furthermore, the action plan failed to set clear targets for organic farming development. On the positive side, the action plan i) expresses the relevance of organic farming in the context of the EU agricultural policy and ii) recognizes the dual societal role of organic farming (provision of public goods and services and infant market responding to consumer concern) - and it doing so as an official EU document.


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