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Agriculture ministers support Action plan for development of organic agriculture and take note of initiative to set up cage-free farming

At the meeting of the EU Agriculture and Fisheries Council, headed by Agriculture Minister Jože Podgoršek, ministers discussed items on the agriculture agenda. They unanimously adopted the Council conclusions on the action plan for the development of organic agriculture, which stress the awareness of member states of the importance of organic farming in ensuring the sustainability of future European agriculture and food production. As regards the "End the Cage Age" European Citizens’ Initiative, the Council supported activities aimed at promoting animal welfare.

The objective of the action plan for the development of organic agriculture is to boost the production and consumption of organic products to reach 25% of agricultural land under organic farming by 2030. The plan also envisages a significant increase in organic aquaculture. Minister Podgoršek stressed that this sector has the potential to guarantee income and create jobs for farmers and rural economies. He added, "Organic farming is part of the EU’s green transition and is crucial for protecting Europe’s environment and preserving its biodiversity. The new action plan will provide a sustainable future for EU farmers.“

At the meeting, the Commission presented information on the "End the Cage Age" European Citizens' Initiative, which calls for the establishment of a cage-free farming system to promote animal welfare and which was signed by 1.4 million people across EU. Podgoršek noted, "Today, ministers have responded to the initiative of EU citizens by supporting a ban on cages for many farmed animals. Rearing animals in cages is contrary to the principles of animal welfare, which I personally strongly advocate. We need to put an end to this practice. However, we must nevertheless take into account the social and economic aspects of agriculture. Sustainable farming is not possible without strict animal welfare standards." The Commission will conduct a thorough analysis and draw up an appropriate legislative framework to respond to the request stemming from the "Farm to Fork" strategy for a transition to more ethical and sustainable farming systems, which will be one of the key objectives of the revision of animal welfare legislation. The revision is expected to be completed in the last quarter of 2023.

At a videoconference meeting with US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, the ministers discussed the challenges facing agriculture as a result of climate change and the transition to more sustainable food systems.

In accordance with established practice, Podgoršek presented to the Council of the EU the agriculture and fisheries priorities under the slogan "Together. Resilient. Europe.". The priorities include a new EU strategy for forestry, sustainable agriculture and rural development (digitalisation and the role of women), the improved position of farmers in the food supply chain, biodiversity and food labelling (including honey mixtures). The Slovenian Presidency will make every effort to conclude the procedures for key legislative acts currently under consideration, including the regulation on fisheries control and the reform of common agricultural policy.