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The agricultural exhibition in Ettelbruck made it clear: Luxembourg’s farmers are showing interest in organic farming. “The Ministry of Agriculture, Viticulture and Rural Development has intensified its  public relations work as part of the PAN Bio 2025 action plan, and this has greatly increased farmers’ requests for information on the subject,” says Gerber Van Vliet, coordinator of the Plan d’Action National (PAN) for organic agriculture. “The conversations we have about the problems and opportunities are very open, even if there is still a bit of uncertainty among some to convert their own farm to organic. Policymakers still have a lot of homework to do.” The discussions about how production can theoretically be converted to organic are obviously no longer taking place behind closed doors. “But of course we now have to practically implement the action plan.”

(l.t.r.) Pierre Treinen (director of the Service d‘économie rurale), Daniel Boumans (MA), the Minister of Agriculture, Viticulture and Rural Development Romain Schneider, Gerber Van Vliet (coordinator of the national action plan for organic agriculture), Pol Petry (ASTA). Photograph: MAVDR

The joy and relief at finally being able again to meet in person at the Foire Agricole and talk about the profession was evident on the faces of visitors at the Ministry of Agriculture stand. The questions of those who wanted information about organic farming were wide ranging. “Generally, however, one can say that the first concern a farmer who is thinking about organic production has is not how to get various payments and subsidies. Rather he wants to know whether the product he aims to produce is in demand on the market. And whether it will be paid for according to the production costs,” says Gerber Van Vliet. “The economic considerations are an important factor, and rightly so. Farmers should see themselves as entrepreneurs. Because even in the organic sector, not every market works one hundred percent.”

Photograph: Marc Decker

The consumer determines what is on offer

The customer decides what he wants to buy and thus determines what is on offer. “In many areas this is often forgotten: It is always the consumer – in the shop, the restaurant, the canteen – who chooses what he is willing to pay money for. He is thus the greatest power there is in the marketplace,” says Gerber Van Vliet. “If the customer conveys his interest in the farmer’s products in this way, the farmer is confident he is on the right track. Then, in my opinion, no farmer will have a problem producing organically as well.” However, we are only at the beginning of a process. “There are strong tendencies in society to buy seasonal and regional products, organic foods included. Everyone has to decide for themselves what agriculture should look like in the future.”