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New monogastric feed rules finally decided

Date Published: 10/04/2012

New rules on feed for pigs and poultry in organic systems have finally been approved by the EU – four months after the expiry of the old ones.

Regulations governing the small amount of non-organic feed allowed in rations for monogastric animals expired at the end of 2011, without new rules having been decided at the European level. Holding measures have been in place since.

Now the Standing Committee on Organic Farming (SCOF) has voted on the detail of a new regulation which will allow businesses in the sector to move forward with more certainty.

A number of issues still need to be clarified by Defra as farmers and feed manufacturers in the UK prepare to operate to the new regulation, but the vote has been welcomed as positive progress by leading certification body, Organic Farmers & Growers.

The issue had centred on whether an allowance of five per cent non-organic content in rations would continue to be permitted. Major concern had been expressed by organic producers and feed suppliers that a 100 per cent organic ration could not be sustained and debate has raged regarding whether it would be desirable for the health of animals, particularly poultry.

The vote by SCOF has settled the issue until at least 2014, though there are a number of changes compared to the old regulation.

The non-organic portion of feed will now be limited to five per cent non-organic protein only, plus an allowance for one per cent non-organic spices, herbs and molasses which are not available in organic form.

A notable text change is the demand that 20 per cent of monogastric feed should be “produced in the same region in cooperation with other organic farms or feed business operators”. However, the regulation does not define a region, leaving Defra to continue its current approach of interpreting this to be a climatic region, in this case north west Europe, which also avoids the potential breaching of rules on intra-community trade.

The minimum requirement for the use of on-farm or regionally-sourced feed for herbivores has been set at 60 per cent, an increase from 50 per cent. It remains the case that all non-organic feed ingredients must have been obtained without the use of chemical solvents.

Chief executive of Organic Farmers & Growers, Richard Jacobs, said: “We welcome the fact that this issue is coming to resolution. As always seems to be the case, there are details still to be clarified and we will be pressing Defra urgently for answers where we feel they are needed. It has been confirmed that producers and feed manufacturers can continue to use and supply feed under the current rules until the end of April, but we will need the new regulation fully clarified in good time before that deadline expires.

“Once this transition is made, we are very keen that the Commission does not forget this issue now and begins its deliberations on what will happen when this part of the regulation expires again in 2014. The last thing we want is to repeat this confused and disruptive situation when that time comes!”

Organic Farmers & Growers provides certification and inspection services to organic farming and food processing across Great Britain, Northern Ireland, the Channel Islands and Isle of Man, as well as certifying commercial composting and the digestate output from anaerobic digestion to their respective standards.