EU Extends Organic Diet Derogation04 January 2012
ANALYSIS - In a unique case, the EU has decided to extend the derogation allowing five per cent non-organic feed ingredients within organic pig and poultry diets, writes Charlotte Johnston, editor of ThePoultrySite.
Until the end of last year, producers were able to feed five per cent of non-organic feed to organic pigs and poultry.
However as of 1 January 2012, European legislation was set to come into play which would have meant that all organic poultry and pig producers would have to have fed 100 per cent organic feed.
Instead, the European Commission has said that it will extend the derogation, after the industry expressed concerns for animal welfare.
Ruth Mason, Food Chain Advisor at the National Farmers' Union (NFU) in England, said that there is not sufficient quantity or quality organic feed to allow producers to feed a 100 per cent organic diet.
"Sourcing high protein products, which are particularly important in poultry layer diets, is difficult. Particularly when coupled with the regional sourcing regulations that are due to be implemented."
EU legislation is also set to require that monogastric farmers source 20 per cent of feed from their own holding or region.
With this in mind, the NFU, the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM) and industry representatives in other EU countries have lobbied hard for the Commission to extend the derogation on grounds of welfare.
Feeding animals lower quality diets could lead to stress on nutritional requirements which would significantly impact animal welfare, as well as potentially damage the organic brand.
The Commission also based their decision to extend the derogation on advice from the EU Organic Expert Group.
The NFU is also advising the Commission to improve research in this area, in order to ensure that the industry is ready for change when the extension ends.
Legislation to extend the derogation has not yet been passed – it is expected to be completed at the end of February/early March 2012 and will be applied retrospectively.
It is likely the extension will be until the end of 2014, giving producers another three years until 100 per cent organic diets are required.