The Greener Agriculture for a Sustainable Sea Conference – GRASS 2019

The Greener Agriculture for a Sustainable Sea conference was held in Warsaw, Poland, on 25-26 September 2019.

Back to back to the Conference, a study trip to the farm of Krzysztof Kowalski, Baltic Sea Farmer of the Year 2018 Winner, was organized to share experiences and best practices among farmers.

The GRASS Conference gathered more than 140 participants, key representatives from the agricultural and environmental field around the Baltic Sea region, providing an important opportunity for sharing ideas, concrete solutions and collaborative approaches.

Miroslaw Proppé, WWF Poland, and Mikhail Durkin, Coalition Clean Baltic, welcomed the participants.

“We are the Baltic” – We share the same feeling and passion, even if we live inland and not closer to the sea. We are all responsible and this is the reason why we are gathered here.

said Mikhail Durkin, CCB Executive Secretary. 

The welcome speech was followed by the first panel of the Conference:

The Polish Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Jan Krzysztof Ardanowski, presented to the audience the program for environment, energy and climate which the government is implementing in Poland, aiming at the protection of the nature and natural resources for the the next generations.
At the end of his speech, he received a joint statement by a group of Polish NGOs.

Here is the news in the website of the Polish Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

Susanna Kaasinen reported on HELCOM work and activities to reduce eutrophication in the Baltic Sea, such us the Baltic Sea Action Plan (BSAP). Unfortunately, there is still a lot to do in terms of national actions and past and current inputs of nutrients still impact the overall status of the sea. A Baltic Sea Regional Nutrient Recycling Strategy will be implemented with a common vision: “Nutrients are managed sustainably in all HELCOM countries, securing the productivity of agriculture and minimizing nutrient loss to the Baltic Sea environment through efficient use of nutrients and cost-effective nutrient recycling”.

Prof. Jósef Tyburski, University of Warmia and Mazury, talked about the existing situation in Poland and in the Baltic Sea, showing different kind of solutions to improve the current status.

The second panel focused on the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), showing the work of the EU Commission in the revision of the CAP after 2020 and the position of Polish NGOs and farmers.

In our joint position we ask for the achievement of environmental and climate goals, as well as ensuring food security and sustainable agricultural production.

affirmed Dorota Metera, Living Earth Coalition.

As farmers, our expectations range from the promotion and support to organic farms to the simplifying of bureaucracy and protection of EU market.

added in his presentation Robert Kuryluk, farmer and member of Living Earth Coalition.

The last speaker, Prof. Zbigniew Karaczun, presented the Agriculture Atlas, facts and figures on EU farming policy available in 8 languages:

We are all consumers. We all depend on agriculture. Our health and well-being depend on farmers. Farming is supposed to have a positive impact on society.

In the second part of the day, WWF and CCB celebrated national winners of the Baltic Sea Farmer of the Year Award 2019 from all Baltic Sea countries, including Belarus and Ukraine and announced this year’s regional winner. This award inspires and recognizes the farmers who are making a difference to reduce nutrient runoff to the Baltic Sea.

Winners are implementing a lot of measures mentioned this morning and the aim is to inspire partners to make an acting part and to show that cooperation is fundamental to move things forward.

said Otthilia Thoreson, WWF BEP during the BSFYA ceremony.

The national winner, who received a prize of 1,000 euro each, were:

  • Belarus: Vitaly Belooky, Zdorovaya Strana Farm
  • Estonia: Ivar Baumann and Maarja Maksimov, Saareõue OÜ
  • Finland: Tage and Ulla Eriksson, Hammarudda Farm
  • Germany: Wilfred Lenschow, Bartelshagen 1 Agricultural Cooperative
  • Latvia: Rihards Kadirovs, Jaunozoli Farm
  • Lithuania: Gintaras Bingelis, Ilzenberg Manor Farm
  • Poland: Marta and Tadeusz Żerańscy, Żerańscy farm
  • Russia: Elena Romanova and Vladislav Kirbatiev
  • Sweden: Holger van der Woude, Yttereneby gård
  • Ukraine: Ihor Yaroslavovych Oryshchyn, Oryshchyn I.Y. family farm

The BSFY 2019 Winner is from Denmark: Kristian and Maria Lundgaard-Karlsøj, Ausumgaard I/S.

We invite you to read the brochure and learn more about each of the 11 inspiring winners here.

The final panel with the winners was an important moment to promote sustainable agricultural practices, such as soil mapping, crop rotation and buffer strips. The farmers highlighted also the importance of sharing experiences and the value of a permanent dialogue with different stakeholders. Last but not least, all recognized that more support and huge investment from government and authorities are fundamental in this process.

The second day of the GRASS Conference had 3 different sessions focused on nutrients, soil and water and climate change.
Speeches about new tools and practices – like Ecological Recycling Agriculture (ERA), manure management, agroecology, carbon storage and swamp buffer zones were followed by presentations of real case studies from researchers and farmers.

The Conference ended with a recap of the 2 days event and the organizers and partners expressed their gratitude to all participants, from farmers to authorities.
Mikhail Durkin, CCB Executive Secretary, said:

It´s not only about organic farming, but sustainable farming. Also conventional methods can be used to reach our goal and protect the Baltic Sea region.

Maria Staniszewska, PKE, added:

We discussed about agriculture and its future. Farmers are shaping the future and I think that this is the mission of this conference too.

The GRASS Conference 2019 was organized by WWF Poland, WWF Ecoregion Programme,  Polish Ecological Club (PKE) and CCB.
Foto credit: Magda Lena Rachanska/Fussy.

Presentations and related documents of the Conference are available in the dedicated pages in English and in Polish.