Confusion reigns over monogastric feed derogation

Date Published: 07/12/2011

Organic producers are being warned to exercise caution over monogastric feed rules as confusion besets the sector.

With the existing derogation allowing five per cent non-organic rations due to expire on December 31 this year, and no replacement regulations put in place, expectation had been growing that it would be extended.

Defra has this week announced that this will be the case, however the details of the extension are still very much up in the air, according to leading organic control body, Organic Farmers & Growers.

Despite a number of organisations making categorical public statements about the percentages of non-organic feed that will be allowed, and the time scales the derogation will apply for, OF&G says the situation is far from clear and is warning organic producers not to act until the matter is indisputably settled.

Organic Farmers & Growers’ Chief Executive, Richard Jacobs, said: “In the last two days we have been told different detail by different, normally reliable, sources. That being the case we would urge every producer who might be affected by this to take any statement of fact with a pinch of salt until we can ensure a definitive answer. We obviously hope to do this in the next day or two, although these are cogs that can move frustratingly slowly.

“For their own sake producers should not be ordering feeds or altering rations in any way for the period after December 31st until their control body can say, with absolute certainty, what the rules will be. They could be putting their organic status at risk if they do so.”

Mr Jacobs said that conflicting information had been received so far, not only on percentages and timescales, but on the allowable non-organic elements of feeds.

He added: “There are grounds to strongly suspect that the five per cent allowance will continue through at least 2012, though there is still some room for doubt. What is far less clear is what types of feed will be included in that five per cent. Everyone should just sit tight until we’re absolutely sure.”

This week’s civil service strike has added further delay to resolving the issue. OF&G will issue its own update on the matter once the details of the derogation extension are clear and irrefutable.