Organic Farming Expansion in Swiss Agriculture

Organic Farming Expansion in Swiss Agriculture

Tue, May 14th 2024

Swiss agriculture sees a modest growth in organic farming, with a significant shift in land use amidst overall farm decline.

KEYSTONE/Christian Beutler

In Switzerland, organic farming continues to make strides, with an increasing number of farms adopting sustainable agricultural practices. According to the latest data from the Federal Statistical Office, about one sixth of Swiss farms have embraced organic farming methods. This shift has led to organic practices being applied to nearly a fifth of all usable agricultural land in the nation.

The recent survey highlighted a slight increase of 77 units or 1% in the number of farms choosing organic standards compared to the previous year. This uptick, however, marks a slower growth rate than seen in prior years.

Meanwhile, the overall number of Swiss farms is on the decline. The Federal Statistical Office reported a reduction of 625 farms in 2023, amounting to a 1.3% decrease from the previous year, following a similar 1.1% decline the year before. Despite these changes, the size of agricultural land in Switzerland has remained stable, predominantly consisting of natural meadows and pastures, followed by arable land, vineyards, and orchards.

The federal government has been proactive in encouraging sustainable practices among farmers. Initiatives launched at the beginning of 2023 aim to reduce pesticide use, with direct payments supporting these environmentally friendly changes. As a result, almost a fifth of all arable land, vineyards, and orchards were cultivated without herbicides this year. Furthermore, across 102,000 hectares of arable land, 14,000 farms have ceased using fungicides and insecticides. The Federal Office for Agriculture has noted the positive impact of these changes, although it also acknowledges the challenges posed by new pests and gaps in plant protection.

As Swiss agriculture evolves, these efforts reflect a broader commitment to sustainability and environmental stewardship, a crucial step toward reducing the agricultural sector’s ecological footprint.


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