Belgium allows 5% conventional raw materials in organic feed

The war in Ukraine has made organic feed hard to source
calendar icon 26 May 2022
clock icon 3 minute read

Due to the war in Ukraine, organic pig and poultry farmers are allowed to mix 5% non-organic protein-rich feed crops in their animals' feed, reports Flemish agricultural organisation VILT. They must individually request permission from the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries. The animal feed sector had requested this exception because a number of organic animal feed raw materials have become particularly scarce.

Ukraine is an important producer of organic products and raw materials for organic animal feed. At the end of March, the Dutch website Nieuwe Oogst warned of an acute shortage of organic animal feed. The shortage on the organic raw materials market had already been going on for six months, but the situation had escalated due to the war in Ukraine. This also had an impact on the prices, causing enormous costs for organic livestock farmers.

For most suppliers of biofeed it had recently become almost impossible to formulate feed that meets the nutritional needs of the animal. A major problem had arisen, especially in the poultry sector, due to a lack of organic sunflower expellers. A ration without sunflower flakes also has an effect on the welfare of chickens. “Today we are already faced with the obligation to keep the cages due to the bird flu, which means that poultry farmers have to provide extra distraction. Without an optimal ration, this can lead to pecking,” says BioForum.

Until the end of last year it was possible to mix 5% conventional feed into organic feed, but those rules were tightened at the beginning of this year by the new European organic regulation, which stipulates that only 100% organic raw materials may be used for organic feed. In order to provide an answer to the scarcity of bio-based raw materials, a number of Member States have urged Europe to go back to the old scheme. With success, because in the meantime the Commission has allowed 5% mixing of conventional raw materials in organic feed, although the Member States can decide otherwise.

Where an exception was already allowed in the Netherlands in mid-April, the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries informed Flemish poultry and pig farmers of this exceptional measure at the beginning of May. “The Flemish government has recognized the war in Ukraine as catastrophic circumstances since April 29, 2022," it said in an email. "As a result, organic pig and poultry farmers who experience a shortage of organic protein-rich feed can request an exception."

Organic pig and poultry farmers had until 18 May to request an individual authorization for the incorporation of 5% conventional feed into organic animal feed for a maximum period of 12 months. "As soon as there is sufficient availability of organic feed again, this decision can be lifted and the authorization will stop," according to the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries.

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