Naturland Fair

The BEATLES-Project

Increasing organic and fair production and consumption in Europe

Magdalena Nertinger, Naturland e.V.

In Southern Germany, Naturland Fair recently invited stakeholders of the organic dairy industry to discuss their day-to-day experiences with sustainable agricultural practices. Their common goal: to get a multi-facetted picture of Europe’s food system, its strategies to improve climate performance of agriculture and to co-create climate-friendly solutions.

Service & Expertise

Every year, the effects of the climate crisis on agriculture are becoming more apparent. Farmers in the Global South are already highly affected, while an increasing number of regions in the Global North is also suffering due to more frequently occurring weather extremes and shift of seasons. On the other hand, agriculture is not only affected by climate change but is also one of the biggest emitter – for example, due to land use changes or methane emissions. Currently, the European Union’s (EU) Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) is mostly still favoring unstainable farming practices and the adoption of organic farming practices is still low within the EU.

Since July 2022, the Fair Trade and Social Responsibility department of the Naturland Association is taking part in the BEATLES (behavioral change towards climate-smart agriculture) project. Climate-smart agriculture is referred to as agricultural practices that sustainably increase agricultural productivity and incomes, adapt and build resilience to climate change, and reduce or remove greenhouse gas emissions, where possible (definition by FAO). The project aims to create an understanding of the lock-ins and levers for a transition to a more climate-smart agriculture and food system. Based on that, pathways towards socio-ecological change will be developed through the provision of a set of business models for fair value propositions, policy recommendations and a guide for agricultural advisors.

Discussing workflow and in-and outputs of dairy farming systems. Source: Naturland

Organic and fair dairy farming as a component of climate-smart agriculture

The project is structured into five use cases to represent the variety of the European food system: organic fruits from Spain, potatoes and onions from the Netherlands, pigs from Denmark, wheat from Lithuania and organic and fair milk from Germany.

Within the project, Naturland Fair is responsible for the use case of organic and fair dairy in Germany. Therefore, we are not only contributing our knowledge about organic agriculture but also adding a social and ethical business dimension to the project. We are working together with “Molkerei Berchtesgadener Land”, a diary cooperative and Naturland Fair partner from the South of Germany in the Alpine Region. Furthermore, Naturland Fair will develop a new agricultural advisory guide together with German and European advisors in close collaboration with the German advisors for Naturland.

Through Naturland Fair’s participation in the project, we aim to:

  • Find pathways to better connect and communicate the benefits of fair and organic agriculture in relation to the climate crisis
  • Increase awareness for organic and fair products, trade and business models
  • Develop policy recommendations that encourage climate-friendly organic production within the EU

To ensure that the BEATLES project’s research and project results are relevant for farmers and other stakeholders along the value chain, a participatory approach is applied to include as many stakeholders as possible. On a yearly basis, co-creation workshops will be organized with different stakeholders to talk about recent challenges regarding organic and fair agriculture and reflect on the outcomes and planned activities within the project. The first co-creation workshop took place in April 2023. During the workshop, the participants discussed the focus of the project and the challenges related to the implementation of (more) organic and fair agricultural practices.

Grassland should be a priority

Key outcomes of the co-creation workshop are:

  • Climate-smart dairy production can be achieved through a mixture of factors: Longevity and a life day performance (through breeding and enhanced animal welfare), production adapted to the region (such as grassland, dual purpose breeds, area-based livestock husbandry, high share of forage in feed), circular economy and regional production (local protein sources, use of side products from food industry as feed) and high organic agricultural standards (such as Naturland standards).
  • A major challenge is consumers’ lack of knowledge: Their often uninformed perception of organic and climate-friendly agriculture and related little understanding of potentially higher prices in comparison to conventional products hinder their decisions for climate friendly and organic products.
  • Agricultural policies often fail to address the farmers and their challenges correctly: Policies such as the CAP should be easier accessible for farmers and focus more on promoting extensive grassland use.

Diary cows at the Schieferl-Hof, which is part of the diary cooperative “Molkerei Berchtesgadener Land”. Source: Naturland/ Jutta Ulmer

Within the next three years, more research is going to be conducted on how exactly farmers and food systems actors such as consumer can be encouraged to choose more environmentally friendly and organic options. This will be done for example through more discussion formats or by advocating for putting “Grünland First” (grassland first) on the political agenda.

This text is a translation. No guarantee can be given for the correctness.

Further information:

More information about the BEATLES project can be found here.


Magdalena Nertinger is working in the Naturland Fair and Social Responsibility department of the Naturland association. Besides member support in the Global South, her main tasks include the implementation of the BEATLES project.