24 Mar What should you know about the changes in the new organic production regulation?
The new organic production regulation R (EU) 2018/848 includes changes to several articles. These changes aim to adapt the regulations to the evolution seen in the sector and its growth by guaranteeing fair trade, preventing fraud and maintaining consumer trust.
The changes in the new organic production regulation further pursue very specific objectives such as the simplification thereof by progressively eliminating exceptions. Likewise, it aims to reinforce the supervisory system with stricter preventive measures throughout the supply chain and make it so that producers from non-EU countries must also meet the same requirements as those from the EU.
The new regulation has also broadened the scope of application to include a longer list of products. Moreover, certification has been made easier (especially for small farmers) with the creation of a new group certification system. On the other hand, guidelines have been established to reduce the risk of accidental contamination by pesticides.
Which articles in the new organic production regulation have changed?
If you know the regulation well and want to specifically find the changes, these are the articles you should review:
- Article 3: Preventive and precautionary measures.
- Article 27: Obligations and actions in the event of suspicion of non-compliance.
- Article 28: Precautionary measures to avoid the presence of non-authorised products and substances.
- Article 29: Measures to be taken in the event of the presence of non-authorised products or substances.
- Article 35 and Annex VI: Certificate and new operator exceptions.
- Article 36: Group of operators.
- Article 39: Additional rules on actions to be taken by the operators and groups of operators.
- Article 41: Additional rules on actions in case of non-compliance.
- Annex II: Records.
What areas are affected by the changes in the new organic production regulation?
In addition to a series of general changes, the following are the areas where changes were made since the new regulation entered into force and where compliance is required as of 1 January 2022:
- Plant production.
- Group of operators.
- Processed products.
New developments in the new organic production regulation regarding plant production
There is now an obligation to increase soil fertility with leguminous crops as the main or cover crop for rotating crops. In the case of greenhouses and perennial crops, there is also a requirement to use short-term green manure crops and legumes as well as plant diversity.
Furthermore, the use of livestock manure or organic matter is mandatory in all cases and all organic crops must be produced in living soil or in soil that is mixed with materials and products that are allowed in organic production. For the production of sprouted seeds, the use of an inert medium may be used solely to keep the seeds moist when the components of that inert medium are authorised.
As concerns pest and disease control, techniques have been introduced for the first time ever such as biofumigation and solarisation in order to prevent them. A list of products for cleaning and disinfecting plant production facilities has also been created and the use of co-formulants with authorised active substances as components of plant protection products is authorised.
The creation of groups of operators in the new organic production regulation
The new European regulation provides for the possibility of creating a group of operators with a single certificate for more streamlined procedures. However, there is a disadvantage to this as certification for all operators will be withdrawn in cases of individual non-compliance.
Each group of operators must set up a joint marketing system for the products they produce and it may only be comprised of farmers or operators who produce algae or aquaculture animals and are engaged in processing, preparation or placing on the market of food or feed. Moreover, they must set up an internal control system and there must be one person or body responsible for verification of compliance with the regulation by all members, which must operate in geographically close locations.
In order to be a member of a group of operators, holdings may not exceed five hectares, 0.5 hectares in the case of greenhouses and 15 hectares in the case of permanent grassland.
There are also economic conditions: the cost of individual certification must be more than 2% of each member’s turnover, their annual turnover of organic production must be less than 25,000 euros and standard output of organic production must be less than 15,000 euros.
New rules on livestock following the changes in the organic regulation
As for livestock, certification has been expanded to new products such as wool and leather as well as new species: rabbits and deer.
In bovine livestock breeding, tethering cattle in farms with more than 50 animals is prohibited, the use of in-conversion feed is reduced to up to 25%, feed from the farm itself has been increased to 70% and the final phase of fattening is prohibited on the farm.
In porcine livestock breeding, the use of feed from the same farm has been increased to 30%, the use of non-organic protein feed has been limited to suckling animals weighing less than 35 kilos and half of all open-air areas must be occupied by solid protection.
The percentage of feed that must be used from the same farm in poultry production has been increased to 30%. With respect to the facilities, porches are no longer taken into account when calculating surface area, poultry must be separated for fattening by solid partitions, open air areas must have a radius of no more than 150 metres and fattening areas must have raised areas so the animals may sit.
Production rules for processed products in the new regulation
Following the changes, the new European regulation includes in-conversion processed products in the separation and cleaning provisions when only organic and non-organic processed products had been included before. It has also included a list of authorised products for cleaning and disinfecting plant production buildings and facilities.
Moreover, the list of products that may be certified as organic has increased to include: yeasts used as food or feed, maté, vine leaves, palm hearts, hop shoots, sea salt, silkworm cocoon, natural gums and resins, beeswax, essential oils, natural cork stoppers, cotton, wool, rawhides and plant-based traditional herbal preparations.