Book of Abstracts
11th IFOAM Scientific Conference
11-15 August 1996, Copenhagen, Denmark
The Swedish Ecological Farmers Association
The ecological production in Sweden is based on care for nature, people and animals. To safeguard a sustainable and healthy pruduction of food for all, we must develop agriculture systems that don't pollute the environment, that recycle organic matter and nutrients and minimise the use of non-renewable resources. The consequence of this goal is that selfreliant, local, cyclic societies must be developed where agriculture is a part and has an important role. The organic movement has been successful in communicating this vision on a broad scale in the Swedish society. 3.5 % of the total acrage of arable land is under certified ecological production and more than 70 % of the Swedish consumers know the KRAV label today. In this presentation I will explain the mechanisms behind th e fact that ecological agriculture today has a high status and is considered a spearhead for the agriculture development in general. 1. Common ground:A common ideological basis for the organisations and individuals who promote ecological agriculture and a functional organisation structure have been important in all kinds of work. Good cooperation within the movement provides a broad and solid source of knowledge and information, and gives a professional impression. The Swedish organic movement is organised in three areas with specific tasks and roles: 1) Development and lobby work (Ecological Farmers, Ecological Milkproducers and Biodynamic Association), 2) certification (KRAV and Demeter) and 3)marketing (Samodlarna Sverige for vegetables and fruit, ekokött for meat, Ecotrade for grain).
2. Consumers and market: The ecological movement of Sweden is convinced that the consumers' trust in and demand for ecologial products is the most important economical basis and best incentive for ecological production and consequently to achieve the above mentioned goals. One important tool for communication of ecological agriculture ideology and methods has been KRAV, our certification body. KRAV has gained great confidence with consumers, farmers and authorities, partly due to its independence and transparancy, partly to the strong support from its member organisations: organic and conventional producers, trade and processors, environment and animal protection organisations.
Trade and processing companies have a positive influence in the growth of organic agriculture. All big food chains have their own label for environmentally sound products where certified eco-food is a part, and the range of processed eco-products has grown enormously the last few years. The biggest dairy, Arla, has had several huge campaigns for eco-milk, e g. You can find ecological food in most ordinary shops today. The availability of products is crucial and the work of the ecological movement has therefore been focused on facilitating conversion with measures like appropriate extension, economical support to farmers and a conversion period of one year.
3. New actors/promotors: An increasing general interest for the environment and resource use has created new actors who support ecological agriculture. The Nature Conservation Society is one of our great promotors in their campaigns for a better environment. Many communities seek in their Agenda 21 work to link with local eco-farmers, and even the conventional farmers, LRF, have taken positive measures.
4. Political goodwill:In 1994 the Swedish parliament decided unanimously to support the aim to have 10 % of the agricultural land under ecological production in the year 2000. An economical support to eco-farmers and a large extension programme were implemented in 1995-96 and programmes for development and research are being elaborated. In these programmes the government has stressed the importance of organic agriculture as a model to change all agriculture in an environmentally sound direction.
Other political measures like taxes on chemical fertilisers and pesticides reinforce the political will to change agriculture in a more environmentally friendly direction.
The ecological farmers have so far pushed and participated in all parts of the development, and it is our strong belief that the farmers have to keep the initiative to continue a good process .