|Case Studies of Regulatory Framework and Policy for Organic In Sweden, Case Studies for Early Organic Agricultural Development in Sweden|
Before KRAV there were several different organic concepts, some involving certification with different models of standards and inspection. Trust in organics was low because of confusion and lack of a clear guarantee system. KRAV was founded in 1985 as a private control body with the aim of creating one common standard with a broad basis of stakeholder participation. The first members were four organic producers’ organizations, the conventional farmers’ federation (LRF), and the major food chain KF, but by 2006 membership had quickly grown to 28 organizations, ranging from organic and conventional farmers’ organizations, environmental and animal rights organizations, to the food industry, trade, etc.
The first standards were developed by farmers, but in the period 1985-1995, standard development was extended to the growing number of stakeholders in KRAV. KRAV and Demeter were the two private sector bodies authorized by the government to carry out inspection and certification, and since there was government involvement at quite an early stage, the government decided that a government certification body was not needed. Of the two certification bodies, KRAV has played the dominant role in the market.
In the first years the work in KRAV was done by the board on a voluntary basis without a paid staff. Several of these ‘certification pioneers’ also became actively engaged in certification development in IFOAM, and KRAV was the first certification body to be IFOAM-accredited.
annex 2: caSe StudieS
The unification of the organic movement under one standard and one logo, and the creation of trustworthy certification, have been major success factors in Swedish organic development.
Since Swedish membership in the EU in 1995, the KRAV standard has been subordinate to EU regulation 2092/91. This means that standard development in KRAV nowadays is more a question of interpretation of and adaptation to the EU standards. Still, to date KRAV owns its standards, which are stricter than the EU standards on some points. A criticism of the EU regulation on the part of the Swedish organic movement is that the so far very dynamic development of organic agriculture may be hampered in the future with the loss of influence from the private sector.
Third-party certification is the only model used in Sweden, and also the only one allowed under the EU law. However, many farmers, especially small-scale, are organic without certification, and discussions on alternative ways such as group certification and PGS have started recently.
Organic agriculture policy
During the early era of organic agriculture the general agricultural policy was focused mainly on productivity and income, with low priority given to sustainability. Subsidies and guaranteed sales and prices cemented the use of chemical inputs and monocultures while discouraging a change to organic. Since 1995, Swedish farmers have lived under the complex agricultural policy of EU – the CAP, Common Agriculture Policy. Lower prices to meet the agreements of GATT are partly compensated by subsidies and direct payments. This means that the prices of agricultural products reflect neither the real costs of production nor the long-term social and environmental costs.
Sweden for a long time has also had several national policies favorable for organic farming. Since the 1980s there are taxes on pesticides and chemical fertilizers, and an animal protection law was launched in 1988, strongly pushed by the popular children’s book writer Astrid Lindgren. In 1999 the government launched 15 national environmental goals, each containing indicators and measures and reflecting society’s impacts and consequences. This has been a step forward for organic agriculture, which now has a policy context to be referred to.
The first political action to support organic agriculture was taken in 1989, when the social democrat government decided to highlight environmental issues to win elections. The agriculture minister launched support to increase organic agriculture, including direct payments to farmers in conversion, an organic university chair, and three national organic advisors. Because of strong lobbying by the ARF, the payment was changed to a general support to all organic farmers and had a duration of three years. The payment was not spectacular, but during that time, production expanded from 6,000 to 40,000 ha and continued to expand even after the end of the subsidy. This shows that the effect of a political support does not lie only with the financial support.
Swedish EU membership and the introduction of the CAP coincided with the parliamentary decision on the 10% target, and the EU environmental program made it possible for the first time to elaborate a comprehensive national strategy for organic farming. Since 1995 organic agriculture has had continued financial support for production, research, extension, and market development. Organic agriculture is now an integrated part of the political agenda, and is recognized as an effective tool to work for the national environmental goals. The programs have been set up for 5-year periods, analyzing the effects between the periods. Looking back, it is clear that the agricultural programs were somewhat unbalanced, supporting mostly the development of production and not so much the development of markets. When the market is not growing satisfactorily, farmers will hesitate to convert their farms.
The policy work and lobbying done by the organic agriculture organizations have been crucial for the positive development. During the 1980s the SAO and later the ARF/Ecological Farmers Association in their policy program laid the ground for effective policy analysis and helped keep the movement united in the sometimes difficult details of the issues. Working with national targets and action plans has facilitated the development of strategies and has given the organic movement influence in these processes. They encouraged the whole private sector to build strategies around common goals, they brought a change in attitude towards organic agriculture in society in general, and they made politicians and market actors take responsibility and carry out their roles in organic development.
The policy work has often taken place in forums organized by the organic sector itself or the sector and government in cooperation. Despite periods of negative propaganda and criticism, the positive attitude of the latest agriculture ministers and individual officials in the National Board towards organic and the appreciation shown for the work and results of the organic sector have been important.
(Author: Inger Källander)
Further Reading on Sweden's Organic Sector Development:
(Adapted From IFOAM, Building Sustainable Organic Sectors)
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