New rules will allow farms produce both conventional and organic food
Rules also aimed at improving consumer confidence in organic products.
EU Member States have endorsed the deal on the overhaul of existing rules on organic production and labelling of organic products.
A provisional agreement with the European Parliament had been reached on June 28.
The new EU rules set more modern and uniform rules across the EU with the aim of encouraging the sustainable development of organic production in the EU.
They also aim to guarantee fair competition for farmers and operators, prevent fraud and unfair practices and improve consumer confidence in organic products.
The new rules include:
- Increasing supply of organic seeds and animals: better data gathering on the availability of organic seeds and animals should increase their supply to meet the needs of organic farmers. Derogations allowing the use of conventional seeds and animals in organic production would expire in 2035, but the end-date could be pushed back or forward, depending on increased availability of organic seeds and animals.
- Mixed farms: farms producing both conventional and organic food would be allowed on condition that the two farming activities are clearly and effectively separated.
- Easier certification for small farmers: group certification for small farmers would make their life easier and attract more of them into the organic farming business.
- Strict, risk-based controls along the supply chain that, on Parliament’s insistence, will be on-site and for all operators, at least annually or one every two years if no fraud is found in the last three years.
- Imports to comply with EU standards: current “equivalence” rules, requiring non-EU countries to comply with similar but not the same standards, will be phased out within five years; to avoid sudden disruption of supply, Commission could, for a renewable period of two years, allow imports of specific products, even if not fully compliant with EU standards (e.g. due to specific climate conditions).
- Contamination with pesticides: farmers will be obliged to apply precautionary measures to avoid contamination; in case of suspected presence of e.g. a non-authorised pesticide or fertiliser, the final product should not bear the organic label until further investigation; if contamination was deliberate or farmer failed to apply newly introduced precautionary measures, it will lose its organic status.
- Member states currently applying thresholds for non-authorised substances in organic food, such as pesticides, could continue to do so, if they allow other EU countries’ organic foodstuffs complying with EU rules to access their markets.
- Four years after entry into force of this regulation, the Commission would report back on the efficiency of the EU anti-contamination rules and national thresholds and, if need be, come up with a draft law to harmonise them.
Following approval by the SCA, the spokesperson of the SCA will send a letter to the chairperson of the European Parliament Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development.
That letter will indicate that, if the Parliament adopts at its plenary session the compromise text as approved by the SCA, the Council will adopt the same text in first reading without amendments.
The new regulation will apply from 1 January 2021.
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