As a result of new EU regulations, growers have to stop growing organic lettuce in pots. The Swedish lettuce production depends on greenhouse horticulture compared to the more southern EU member countries. In spite of this, the new EU regulations are now being implemented after four years of negotiating, and organic potted lettuce can no longer be grown as of 2021. One of the affected farmers is Ulf Jönsson from Påarp, near Helsingborg. “I’m angry because our politicians didn’t stand up for us, and that we’ll no longer be able to meet our consumers’ demand,” he says. The ban is in effect for the production of lettuce in pots and in raised beds and for cucumbers and tomatoes, although dispensation for these has been granted for the next 12 years.
The EU issued the ban based on arguments that the only truly organic lettuce is grown in cold soil. Swedish Minister of Agriculture Sven Erik Bucht shares the disappointment of the Swedish growers, although he doesn’t think Sweden had a choice. “We had to vote in favour. Fortunately, we managed to get a few exceptions,” Bucht says, and he mentions the example of cucumbers and tomatoes. “The majority of the EU was in favour of the decision, and in the EU, the majority matters in these kinds of cases,” he says.