Organic Farming Support Policy in a Sustainable Development Context: A Polish Case Study

This paper assesses the extent, scope and importance of financial support for Polish organic farming from 2004 to 2019. The analysis focuses particularly on how the changes in the amount and structure of organic farming payments affected farmers’ interest in specific organic crops during three financing periods: the 2004–2006 Rural Development Plan, the 2007–2013 Rural Development Programme (RDP) and the 2014–2020 Rural Development Programme. This paper aims to answer the question of whether and to what extent the organic farming support policy impacted the development trends followed by, and transformation processes affecting, this sector. It follows from this analysis that in the first decade after joining the European Union, Poland implemented a policy of making payments easily available. It was primarily focused on the quantitative growth of organic farming rather than on stimulating supply. As the payments were easily accessible and decoupled from production, subsidy-oriented farmers were additionally encouraged to seek political rent. This resulted in the instability of a large group of farms who discontinued their organic farming activity in 2014. That year, the policy was amended because of the need to improve the allocation efficiency of subsidies and to couple them with the provision not only of environmental public goods but also of private goods in the form of organic farming products. The current support policy opens up greater opportunities for leveraging the potential of organic farming while reaping environmental and socioeconomic benefits and contributing more than ever to sustainable development.