Groundwater protection through organic farming in the Mangfall Valley (Germany)

The initiative is a programme set up by the Munich public utility company (‘Stadtwerke Muenchen’ – SWM) to support organic farming practices in the study region, i.e. the catchment area of the Mangfall river (originating from Lake Tegern) located ca. 40 km southeast of Munich. The programme commenced in 1992 mainly to counter the decreasing quality of the drinking water supplied to Munich. Farmers receive support for first conversion to organic farming for a period of 18 years as a payment for the contribution to water protection, covering income losses and necessary investments. The SWM also covers first advisory services through organic producer associations as well as annual certification. Farmers are also supported in the marketing of their products. Although the initiative does not directly target young farmers or new entrants, the initiative has the potential to attract these groups as financial support makes farming more viable. Within the framework of the FarmPath case study involving key stakeholder interviews, the focus is on how the initiative changes agricultural practices and actor constellations in the region as more and more farmers are converting their holdings to organic production, and alternative ways of marketing of organic agricultural products are introduced.