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Country report - Denmark

by Tomas Fibiger Norfelt, Knowledge Centre For Agriculture

This article was originally written for the publication "Organic in Europe", published by the IFOAM EU Group in collaboration with the Research Institute of Organic Agriculture FiBL, Switzerland, and the Mediterranean Institute for Agronomic Research CIHEAM-IAM, Bari, Italy. 

Key Indicators 2012

  • Organic agricultural area: 182,930 hectares
  • Operators:
    • Organic producers: 2,677 (2011)
    • Organic processors: 517
    • Organic importers: No data
    • Organic exporters: No data
  • Retail sales: EUR 887 million

Area and operator data Eurostat; domestic market data: Danish Agriculture and Food Council (LF), based on data from Statistics Denmark and Organic Denmark. Provided by Eijvind Pedersen (LF); export and import data: Statistics Denmark

History of Organic Farming

  • 1987: The Danish Parliament adopts the world’s first comprehensive legislation on organic farming
  • 1993: The largest Danish supermarket chain, Coop Denmark, reduces its prices for a wide range of organic products by 15 to 20 %. General support for organic farming is introduced
  • 1996: The 7th Scientific and Technical Conference of the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM) is held in Denmark
  • 2008: The International Centre for Research in Organic Food Systems (ICROFS) is founded as an expansion of the former Danish Agricultural Research Centre for Organic Farming (DARCOF)

Key Sector Institutions

Production Base: Land use and key crops

Of the total area of 182,930 hectares (2012)

  • 13 % consists of grassland/grazing areas
  • 86 % arable land and
  • 1 % permanent crops.

The key arable crops are

  • green fodder from arable land (90,000 hectares),
  • cereals (60,700 hectares),
  • seeds (4,000 hectares), and
  • vegetables (1,900 hectares).

The key permanent crops are

  • fruit (600 hectares),
  • energy crops (willow, poplar, etc.) (700 hectares),
  • and Christmas trees (300 hectares).

Standards, Legislation, Organic Logo

The state certification and inspection in Denmark adheres to EU legislation on organic farming and other regulations. The Danish law on organic farming sets out the rules for the certification procedure and for the few areas that are not covered by the EU legislation, such as rearing chickens for egg production. More information available at: www.fvm.dk; Danish AgriFish Agency: www.naturerhverv.dk.

The Danish state-owned O label was launched in 1990. The logo is familiar to 98 % of all Danish consumers.

Policy Support

  • National action plan: The Action Plan for Organic Production towards 2020, launched in June 2012, is intended to achieve the government’s objective of doubling the area used for organic farming in Denmark by 2020. The government aims to effect a green transition of Danish agriculture, and it considers organic production as a cornerstone of this conversion. Key targets are the organic conversion of public kitchens (approximately EUR 7.5 million in 2012-2013; DKK 56 million), conversion of public land, the introduction of a number of new organic products (approximately EUR 5.36 million in 2012-2014; DKK 40 million), better focused and coordinated export activities (approximately EUR 2.68 million in 2012-2013; DKK 20 million), and targeted support for organic farms (approximately EUR 10.7 million in 2012-2013; DKK 80 million). More information available at: http://fvm.dk/landbrug/indsatsomraader/oekologi/oekologisk-handlingsplan...
  • Support under the EU rural development programme: Subsidies to convert to organic farming, amount to EUR 140 (DKK 1,050) per hectare annually, during the conversion period. An additional EUR 13 (DKK 100) per hectare annually will also be provided over the three subsequent years, during the first 5-year commitment period.
  • Other policy support: Farmers can apply for direct payments in support of extensive or environmentally friendly farming practices of EUR 110 per hectare. In addition to the financial support for organic farmers, the Danish government also discourages conventional farming by levying high taxes on products such as fertilisers and pesticides. Funding is provided to the International Centre for Research in Organic Food Systems (ICROFS), for investments in new technologies and for the development of new products.

Research & Advice

ICROFS calls itself a centre without walls, where scientists remain in their own locations while working across institutions. Its activities are coordinated by a secretariat at the Research Centre Foulum, Aarhus University. Since 1996 three major organic research programmes have been launched DARCOF I, II and III.

The Danish Agricultural Advisory Service is Denmark‘s oldest and largest organic extension service. Run by the farmers‘ union, the Danish Agriculture & Food Council, it operates on two levels. Regionally, about 30 agricultural centres provide advice to farmers, while the experts working at the central Knowledge Centre for Agriculture coordinate the development of the advisory services.

Challenges & Outlook

Consumers, politicians, companies and farmers are all looking for ways to secure sustainable development in Denmark. Organic farming plays a vital role in this. The challenges facing the stakeholders include the need to maintain the integrity and the quality of the organic products, while further developing organic farming and informing consumers about organic products. The political establishment must maintain its focus on organic farming as an effective environmental tool and not just a market opportunity, and conventional processors must become involved in the processing and promotion of organic products, both in Denmark and abroad.

Further Information

For other relevant websites, see the section on key sector institutions


Tomas Nørfelt Fibiger
Information Officer
Danish Agricultural Advisory Service, National Centre
Tomas Fibiger Norfelt
Udkaersvej 15
8200 Arhus
Tel. +45 87 40 50 10
Fax +45 87 40 54 94

Organic in Europe 2014

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