Germany was Country of the Year, BIOFACH 2017.

Germany's Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL) boosted its commitment to its Federal Scheme for Organic Farming and Other Forms of Sustainable Agriculture (BÖLN) with plans to increase funding to EUR30 million per year from 2018.

And FiBL data showed continued strong organic sales demand in Germany with 10 percent organic sales growth in 2016. Germany was also one of the top three European organic sales growth markets in 2015, along with France and Italy.

Speaking at the BIOFACH World Organic Fair in Germany 15 February, Federal food and agriculture minister Christian Schmidt told a meeting that funding for the federal organic farming scheme will be increased by 50 percent to EUR30m (US$31.7m).

The Minister said that BMEL aims to facilitate the conversion of farms to organic farming with increased federal funding on some 20 percent of all land designated for agricultural use across the Germany.

"The goal of having 20 percent of the agricultural area managed in an ecological way is also to help our farmers take advantage of the opportunities offered by the growing organic sales market,” he said.

On the previously stated policy of further assistance for the protein crops strategy, this will continue as one of the pivotal financing instruments for the realisation of these projects under the forward-looking strategy.

 Minister Schmidt said that funding resources for the protein crops will continue at the current level of EUR6 million per year.

 In an earlier February statement, BMEL said that Germany has by far the greatest demand for organic products in the EU and is second only to the USA at global level.

 "With a growth of approx. 9.9 percent in 2016, the share of sales of organic foods in the total turnover of foods in Germany amounted to around EUR9.48 billion (excluding away-from-home catering)," BMEL said.

 "This corresponds to a share of 5.0 percent on the food market. With EUR8.62, this accounted for 4.7 percent of the food market in 2015. Experts believe that organic farming still has considerable growth potential."

 "In the final instance, the development of organic farming is up to the consumers. They are the ones who must be prepared to pay higher prices for organic produce and, in this way, to reward the special ecological contribution and quality features of organic farmers," BMEL said.

 At BIOFACH, the Research Institute of Organic Agriculture FiBL and the Agricultural Market Information Company AMI presented the 2015 data of the European organic sector, revealing that Germany was the largest organic market in Europe (8.6 billion euros), followed by France (5.5 billion euros), the UK (2.6 billion euros) and Italy (2.3 billion euros).

 FiBL revealed that the first figures available for 2016 show that the market continues to grow (Germany 2016: 9.5 billion euros), a 10 percent sales growth. Globally, Germany is the second largest market after the U.S. (35.8 billion euros in 2015).

 Helga Willer of FiBL said: "The dynamics of the European market is showcased by the strong increase. For the first time since the financial crisis, the market showed double-digit growth (+13 percent). In France and Italy, the markets grew by 15 percent and in Germany by 11 percent in 2015."