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Industry call for the new EU regulation to be rejected

Date Published: 09/12/2016

Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs

OF&G has worked hard to offer assistance to officials over the past 2½ years to bring about the best possible outcome for the negotiation of a new EU Organic Regulation.

We have always maintained that the current regulatory framework already provides a strong basis for the development of organic food and farming and would have preferred a review of the current regulation (status quo plus). We have, however, worked positively on the new proposal in an effort to improve it.

Negotiations between the Commission, Council and Parliament have not succeeded in reaching a political agreement on the text after 14 Trilogues and numerous other technical meetings.

The failure of the negotiations, in spite of the time, effort and hard work from all involved, indicates that the proposal put forward by the Commission is clearly not fit for purpose. There still remains some ‘red lines’ for us and even if agreement can be found on these the text will still not offer any advantages over the current rules. Indeed, much of the technical coherence has been lost in the protracted negotiations.

For this reason OF&G have taken active steps to bring about the outright rejection of the process and stop any further discussion on the proposed new regulation. To help facilitate this we are working with European organic group IFOAM EU and along with others in the UK we are asking Defra to support our position at this critical point of the process.

We would, however, support a review of the current regulation in the context of the practical challenges faced by our operators and UK consumers.
See below letter sent today from the organic sector to the minister requesting Defra’s support.


George Eustice MP

Minister of State for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Nobel House

17 Smith Square

London

SW1P 3JR

Email: george.eustice@defra.gsi.gov.uk

9 December 2016

Dear Minister

Proposal for a new EU Organic Regulation

We write ahead of the extraordinary meeting of the Special Committee on Agriculture (SCA) of Friday 9th December and the Agriculture and Fisheries Council meeting on 12 & 13th of December to ask you to take action to ensure that the SCA will reject any continuation of the review of the EU Organic Regulation.

This action, we strongly believe, will be in the best interests of organic farming, growing and food businesses in the UK.

All of our organisations have worked hard to offer assistance to you and your officials and to UK MEPs over the past 2½ years to bring about the best possible outcome for the negotiation of a new EU Organic Regulation. We have had a very constructive relationship with your officials, who have done all they can to promote the interests of the organic sector in the UK.

You will be aware that the negotiations have not succeeded in reaching a political agreement on the text after 14 Trilogues and numerous other technical meetings. In our view the failure of these negotiations, in spite of so much time, hard work and good will from all involved, indicates that the proposal put forward by the Commission is clearly not fit for purpose.

The current Presidency has sought to focus on resolving a small number of critical issues. These all represent ‘red lines’ for the UK, but even if agreement can be found on any or all of these the text will still offer no advantages over the current rules. Indeed, much of the technical coherence has been lost in the protracted negotiations and we do not believe that the current process can correct this.

We understand that the Presidency will now propose a period of reflection before negotiations resume in 2017 and that Ministers will not be given the opportunity to comment on the state of the negotiation in the Council meeting.

We strongly believe that this proposal is unnecessary and inappropriate and ask you to ensure that the SCA will reject any continuation of the review and that you should be given the opportunity to express a clear opinion in the Agriculture and Fisheries Council that the Trilogues should not continue in 2017.

Although we have worked tirelessly with your officials to improve the proposal made by the European Commission in March 2014, it is our firm view that the current regulatory framework already provides a strong basis for the development of organic food and farming in the UK.

Yours sincerely,

 

On behalf of the following organisations:

Stephen Briggs, AbacusAgri

Tarry Bolger, Managing Director , Biodynamic Association Certification

Christopher Stopes, EcoS Consultancy

Lawrence Woodward, Future Sustainability

James Campbell, Chief Executive, Garden Organic

Minette Batters, Deputy President, NFU

Andrew Trump, Organic Arable

Roger Kerr, Chief Executive, Organic Farmers & Growers

Alan Schofield, Chairman, Organic Growers Alliance

Julian Wade, Director, Organic Food Federation

Professor Nic Lampkin, Executive Director, Organic Research Centre

Adrian Blackshaw, Chair, Organic Trade Board

Helen Browning, Chief Executive, Soil Association

Martin Sawyer, Chief Executive, Soil Association Certification