Swiss government sets out new greener farming policy

There were roughly 51,620 farms in Switzerland in 2017. The agriculture sector accounts for less than 1% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product. Keystone / Georgios Kefalas

The government has presented its new agricultural strategy for 2022-2025, which aims to shrink the sector’s ecological footprint. 

This content was published on February 13, 2020

“The PA 22+ agricultural policyExternal link stands for environmentally friendly agriculture that takes into account the concerns of the population,” Economics Minister Guy Parmelin told a news conference in Bern on Thursday. 

The main focus of the proposed strategy is to combat environmental pollution and to reduce the amount of resources used when farming. 

To do so, the government is raising the bar for farmers seeking to qualify for subsidies. For example, it wants the maximum amount of fertilizer that can be spread per hectare to be reduced from 3% to 2.5% of the total surface area. The choice of authorised products will also be limited and controls will become stricter. 

Financial incentives will be offered to encourage farmers to spray less pesticide. Those who do without herbicides, insecticides or fungicides will receive more money. 

The government proposes that farmers also set aside more land to encourage biodiversity. The federal authorities will pay more to those farmers who let their cows graze or provide special biodiversity services, for example. 

The minister also wants farmers to reduce nitrogen and phosphorous emissions. The government proposes binding targets: a reduction of 10% by 2025 and of 20% by 2030 from current levels. This is an issue as Swiss farmers apply more fertilizer to their fields than plants can absorb. Excess nitrogen accumulates in the soil and seeps into the groundwater as nitrate. 

The overall budget for the proposal, which covers 2022-2025, is estimated at CHF13.8 billion – the same as the current agricultural programme. 

There were roughly 51,620 farms in Switzerland in 2017. The agriculture sector accounts for less than 1% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product. 

Switzerland imports between 40% and 50% of food and its economy depends to a large degree on exports. 

The proposed reform will now move to parliament for further discussion. Two people’s initiatives against pesticides will also be voted in November at the latest.

In compliance with the JTI standards

In compliance with the JTI standards

More: SWI certified by the Journalism Trust Initiative

Contributions under this article have been turned off. You can find an overview of ongoing debates with our journalists here. Please join us!

If you want to start a conversation about a topic raised in this article or want to report factual errors, email us at

Sort by

Change your password

Do you really want to delete your profile?

Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Almost finished... We need to confirm your email address. To complete the subscription process, please click the link in the email we just sent you.

Weekly top stories

Keep up to date with the best stories from SWI on a range of topics, straight into your mailbox.


The SBC Privacy Policy provides additional information on how your data is processed.