Swiss Agricultural Policy and its Implications for Organic Farming S31
Swiss Federal Office of Agriculture, CH-3003 Bern, Switzerland
|The role of agriculture in the Swiss society has
changed. Its multifunctions in modern society and a new macroeconomic setting (increasing
productivity, surpluses, trade liberalisation, environmental concerns etc.) call for a new
policy approach. Swiss agricultural policy is in the process of reform at present. The
first step of reform has been taken by separating price from income policy
(«decoupling«). Within this concept of decoupling, since 1993 the Swiss government has
introduced ecologically oriented payments to farmers who voluntarily follow strict
regulations of farming systems such as organic and integrated farming. The main objectives
are the reduction of nitrogen and phosphorus inputs as well as the reduction of plant
protection treatments in agriculture, and the maintenance and improvement of biodiversity.
The second step of the reform is in preparation. The main subject is to make more competitive the entire food sector. In this context, the protection of product designations such as »organic« plays an important role. For this reason, a regulation on the designation of organically produced agricultural products and foodstuffs is being prepared. This regulation will contain the principles for plant production and animal husbandry as well as the standards for transformation, labelling and certification. These two interdependent lines of action, the promotion programme on farm level and the rather marketoriented regulatory activities, support each other, building up an important market for organic production on the one hand, and assuring the credibility and consequently the stability of this market on the other hand.