The area used for organic agricultural production in the European Union (EU) continues to increase, however Ireland is among the member states with the lowest share of organic farm area.

Organic agricultural production covered 14.7 million hectares across the EU in 2020, up from 9.5 million hectares in 2012, equivalent to a rise of 56%.

In 2020, the total organic area in the EU corresponded to 9.1% of the total utilised agricultural area (UAA).

Increase in organic farm land

Between 2012 and 2020, the share of the agricultural area used for organic farming increased in all EU member states, except for Poland.

In 2020, the highest shares of organic farm areas within total UAA were in Austria (25%); Estonia (22%); and Sweden (20%).

By contrast, the share of organic farming was below 5% in eight EU member states, with the lowest shares in Ireland and Malta.

Latvia and Austria had the largest share of organic population of ‘sheep and goats’ (36% of total sheep and goat population was organic) and Denmark had the highest share of organic pig population (3.4%).

The highest share of organic bovine animals was reported in Greece (30.3%).

The 2020 figures for organic livestock as a share of all livestock showed that, in some EU member states remarkably large shares of cattle, sheep and goats were reared using organic methods – bovines, sheep and goats being the most popular species.

There were more than 4.5 million organic bovines in the EU out of a total 76.5 million bovine animals reported in 2020.

According to the data, organic farm managers tend to be younger. The share of farm managers under 40 years of age was twice as large for organic farms (21%) as for non-organic farms (10.5%).

Certified organic crops

In all EU member states, organic crop areas were mainly certified. In 2020, in eight EU member states (Lithuania, the Netherlands, Czechia, Sweden, Ireland, Estonia, Latvia and Luxembourg) more than 90% of organic crop areas were reported as certified.

Another 14 EU countries had shares of ‘certified organic’ between 70% and 90%. The lowest shares of certified areas were recorded for Hungary (64.1%), Malta (61.2%) and Romania (58.9%).

Eurostat said that this means that there is a high potential for further growth in certified area in these countries in the coming years.

Due to the 2-3 years conversion period of agricultural land, a high share of area under conversion is necessary to avoid a stagnation in the growth of the certified organic area.