In North-Rhine-Westphalia (NRW), the most populated German state (18 million people), 2.6% of the agricultural area is farmed organically (as of 1.1.2002). Using data derived from the NRW statistical office, the statewide extension agencies and organic farmers’ organisations, the geographical distribution of the organic farms was investigated by correlating general conditions and the economic and natural environment. The organically farmed area varied widely - from 0.1 to 7.5% of total agricultural area - over the 34 administrative districts of NRW. The focus of this study is an analysis of the agricultural structure to understand the heterogeneous distribution of organic farms in NRW. In certain parts of NRW, highly specialised intensive farming creates a high environmental burden. Although organic agriculture clearly has a lower negative environmental impact, the number of organic farms in regions with specialised intensive production is low. The inherent needs of these specialised intensive systems restrict the options to simplify and to adopt organic farming systems, and some products (e.g., pork, sugar beet) only have access to a very small organic market. Therefore, the opportunity for increasing the rate of transition (conversion) of specialised conventional farms to organic farming is very limited within the current agro-political framework. The analysis of the heterogeneous spatial distribution of the organic farms illustrates the need for a different supporting payment system for organic areas. In addition, measures supporting organic farming should not be restricted to financial support.organic agriculture, North-Rhine-Westphalia, farm type, livestock production, crop production, grassland, income, rent, Farm Management, Land Economics/Use, Livestock Production/Industries,
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