Draft regulation on monogastric feed leaves questions unanswered

Date Published: 27/01/2012

A long-awaited draft version of a new EU regulation on organic feed for pigs and poultry has been unveiled but there is still much to clarify, according to a leading control body.

Organic Farmers & Growers met with Defra officials and NFU representatives this week to discuss the amended regulation, which is intended to replace rules which expired at the end of December last year.

The aim of the draft is to extend provisions for allowing a small proportion of non-organic feed to make up rations for monogastrics, following concern that the sector would be unable to move to a 100 per cent organic diet in the foreseeable future, due to both supply of raw ingredients and a lack of evidence that such a diet would be suitable for the welfare of the animals.

With the expiry of the existing derogation at the end of 2011, a 100 per cent organic ration was expected to have been enforced from the start of 2012, but the EU Commission failed to address the issue before the expiry of the old regulation, throwing the organic sector into a quandary.

Interim advice emerged in December, following pressure from OF&G, that control bodies should maintain the status quo until the new regulation could be approved.

The EU’s Standing Committee on Organic Farming (SCOF) is due to discuss the new draft in February, which is the earliest the matter may be concluded.

However, changes in the wording of the new draft regulation have opened up more questions regarding definitions which control bodies will need clarifying before they will be able to work to the standard. OF&G has created a briefing note for its licensees, and any other organic farmers, to appraise them of the latest developments.

OF&G Chief Executive, Richard Jacobs, said: “This has been a frustrating and confusing process for everyone and we shouldn’t have got this far down the road without it being clarified. We are working closely with Defra and other key bodies to try and get the issue resolved once-and-for-all.

“The sector is in limbo at the moment which is far from ideal as feed compounders need to be ordering raw materials well in advance and organic farmers need to know what is and is not permissible before they buy in stocks of feed. Although we currently have permission for them to continue under the old standards we need a satisfactory way forward to be agreed as soon as possible.

“There are still many unanswered questions surrounding possible interpretations of the new regulation, which puts farmers and compounders in a difficult position.”

The new regulation is now not expected to come into force before the end of February, though there are suggestions that timeframe could extend into March.

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