Austria opposes new EU bio farm rules

Austria opposes new EU bio farm rules
Austrian cows on an organic farm. Photo: c_pichler/Flickr
Austria and Germany have both stated their opposition to proposed new rules from the EU Commission relating to the management of organic, or 'bio' farms.

"If this regulation is implemented, many organic farmers in Austria may stop farming," warned Agricultural Minister Andrae Rupprechter of the Austrian People's Party (ÖVP) on Monday before a meeting with his EU counterparts in Brussels. 

The European Commission intends to reinforce the existing rules for organic farming.  There are some exceptions to be abolished, which allow farmers to alternate between organic and conventional farming. 
German Agriculture Minister Christian Schmidt said on Monday that he considered such strict rules "not practicable and not necessary".
Certain exceptions should continue to exist, and he considered the new limits specified by the Commission not to be realistic.
Rupprechter referred to the "over-bureaucratic" provisions of the regulation. "When I think that in the future colouring eggs is no longer possible, then that's just absurd," said the Minister of Agriculture. 
Austria and Germany will share a common cause on Monday in Brussels when it comes to milk quotas. These expire in March 2015, and until then the EU Commission imposes penalties for overproduction.
Together with the Netherlands, the governments of Berlin and Vienna have now presented a proposal to amend the so-called "fat correction" rules – and thus to achieve a reduction in the penalties. 
In contrast to June, when Rupprechter was rebuffed by the United Kingdom and France, he now hopes for a success.
"We will now make a last ditch attempt to reach an agreement with the fat correction," he said before the meeting.
The new proposal takes into account the concerns of France, Spain and Italy.
"I believe it will be a success," Schmidt also said before the meeting of the Council.

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