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Comparative analysis of organic and non organic agricultural holdings in Luxembourg

A Luxembourg study investigated environmental and economic parameters on organic and non-organic agricultural holdings. The result: At present, organic farms do not receive adequate compensation for their positive environmental impacts.

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(January 24, 2012) 

The Luxembourg Institute for organic farming and agriculture (www.IBLA.lu) – a member of  FiBL International – investigated in cooperation with FiBL environmental and economic parameters on organic and non-organic agricultural holdings in Luxembourg. The IBLA partners CONVIS, Service d’Economie Rurale (SER), and Fondation Hëllef fir d’Natur/natur an ëmwelt also participated in the study.

The study was prompted by both the low proportion of organic farms in Luxembourg and the question as to the environmental services and social costs of the different types of management. In order to evaluate the efficiency of financial support, including the premia paid to support organic farming, selected environmental parameters were related to farm economic indicators. A total of 24 holdings were investigated.

The study shows that organic farms provide significantly greater environmental benefits compared to non-organic farms but the public payments they receive are only marginally higher. Non-organic farms have a much greater nitrogen eutrophication potential. Organic farms are associated with greater efficiency of nitrogen use, lower energy consumption and lower greenhouse gas emissions, and greater self-sufficiency in feeds especially with respect to protein feedstuffs. Phytosociological surveys show that organic farms have much greater plant biodiversity, including endangered species. The organic farms studied are in receipt of only marginally higher public financial supports than their non-organic colleagues.

The authors of the study conclude that at present, organic farms do not receive adequate compensation for the positive environmental impacts they generate. There is no ascertainable correlation between total public financial supports and the farms’ environmental services. The authors issue an urgent call for the statement of clear agri-environmental targets for Luxembourg so as to allow for the effective and efficient orientation of agri-policy instruments and for their evaluation. The level of premia paid should reflect the ecological impacts generated by the agri-environmental measures.

The results of the study were presented to and discussed with the Luxembourg Minister for Agriculture Romain Schneider. Organic farmers hope that the results will find consideration in the re-orientation of the new farming legislation coming into force after the 2013 Reform of the Common Agricultural Policy, which is to increase the acreage under organic management in Luxembourg.
The project was supported by the Luxembourg Ministry of Agriculture under the Luxembourg action plan for organic farming.

Further information

The study

IBLA/FiBL (2011): Vergleichende ökonomisch-ökologische Analyse von biologisch und konventionell wirtschaftenden Betrieben in Luxemburg („öko-öko“). Institut fir biologesch Landwirtschaft an Agrarkultur asbl IBLA. Munsbach. Download (in German) at www.ibla.lu/ibla/images/stories/pdf/oeko_oeko/endbericht  

The study can be downloaded at www.ibla.lu  as a .pdf file or ordered as a hard copy (€6 plus €3 postage) from IBLA.

Contact

  • Raymond Aendekerk
    Institut fir biologesch Landwirtschaft an Agrarkultur asbl (IBLA), 13, rue Gabriel Lippmann, 5365 Munsbach, Luxemburg
    +352 (0)261523 88
    aendekerk(at)ibla.lu
  • Steffi Zimmer
    Institut fir biologesch Landwirtschaft an Agrarkultur asbl (IBLA), 13, rue Gabriel Lippmann, 5365 Munsbach, Luxemburg
    +352 (0)261523 84
    zimmer(at)ibla.lu