Organic Rules and Certification

All differences in one table by country standards

  • Organic regulations/standards by region
    • Europe
      • Switzerland
        • Governmental regulation
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Title Description Difference Justification and Comments
Animal fodder, origin - CH Regulation/Ordinance 2005
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Fodder must be procured from organic farms. Purchase is limited by the limits for fertilization intensity on the farm. Also by strictly limiting the export of farmyard manure (which implements a limit on the number of animals) the purchase of fodder is automatically restricted.
The Swiss Ordinance requires a balanced equation of fodder, farm yard manure and commercial fertilizers used in order to ensure a closed production cicle with no excessive farm yard manure produced within the organic farm. The EU Regulation 2092/91 has less requirements, since it only recommends that at least 50 % of the feed should come from the farm unit itself or if this is not feasible produced in cooperation with other organic farms. Fodder production and fertilization on farm must be in balance. In order to avoid soil independent animal husbandry, the Swiss Ordinance limits the purchase of fodder by strictly limiting the export of farm yard manure and by limiting the fertilization with farm yard manure and commercial fertilisers on the operations own land.
Biodiversity, landscape - CH Regulation/Ordinance 2005
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7% of the arable land in a farm must be dedicated to landscape diversification.
The requirement of 'compensatory ecological habitats' is a very specific Swiss standard. No similar paragraph is quoted in the EU Regulation 2092/91. To support refuge areas for beneficials matches the holistic approach of organic farming, which is keen to take advantage of a sound and well balanced micro-ecosystem. The «compensatory ecological habitats» should enhance a natural balance between noxious and benefical organisms. Furthermore ecologically diversified areas contribute to maintain genetic and biotic diversity and contributes to the landscape attractiveness.
Contamination, testing, spraying equipment - CH Regulation/Ordinance 2005
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Organic farms must have their spraying equipment tested every 4 years.
Whereas the Swiss Ordinance requires spraytests, EU Regulation 2092/91 does not rule this point of concern. As good agricultural practise also in organic farming all spraying equipment must work perfectly in order to avoid non adequate application of agricultural substances.
Conversion of land, livestock production - CH Regulation/Ordinance 2005
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A conversion period of at least 2 full calendar years is required. No retrospective approval is granted (no reduction of the conversion period is possible)
The Swiss Ordinance requires a conversion period of 2 years for pastures, whereas EU Regulation 2092/91 permits a reduction of the conversion period for pastures down to 6 months for non-herbivore species if no disallowed substances have been applied to the respective plots. This rule is contributing to maintain consumer confidence.
Conversion period - CH Regulation/Ordinance 2005
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The conversion period lasts 2 years, starting on January 1st. The Swiss Ordinance foresees the start for conversion only for January 1st of each calendar year and the application for conversion must be deposited by August 31st of the previous year (hereafter, no application of disallowed substances is allowed anymore). From Januray 1st of the first year of conversion, Swiss farms are allowed to market their produce with the claim 'in conversion to organic farming'
The Swiss Ordinance accepts a shorter conversion period for perennial crops than the EU Regulation 2092/91, which applies a zero year which leads to a total of 36 months in perennials and 24 months in annual crops. For reasons of credibility in the consumers eyes, the Swiss Ordinance strictly defines the beginning of conversion starting with the first year of inspection on the spot.
Conversion, retroactive approval - CH Regulation/Ordinance 2005
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The conversion period lasts 2 years, starting on the first of January.
With the exception for sprouts and mushroom production the Swiss Ordinance does not allow a shortening of the conversion period: While the EU Regulation 2092/91 offers the possibility for retrospective approval in cases, where previous management methods are proved to be in compliance with the Regulation (approval as 'organic' after 6 months of first inspection for pastures or immediate approval for other plots if last conventional measure happened more than 3 years ago). For reasons of credibility in the consumers eyes, the Swiss Ordinance strictly defines the beginning of conversion starting with the first year of inspection on the spot.
Fertilization, intensity and import - CH Regulation 2005
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The source of brought-in manures is restricted by the positive list of admitted fertilizers in organic farming. For export of manure from the own operation of more than 1 LSU/year, a contract must exist with the farm receiving this manure. This farm must be managed according ecological principles and can not exceed adequate nutrient limits as set by the legislation.
Import of farm yard manure and compost can only occur if a contract exists with the exporting farm and nutrient needs of crops are not exceeded (evidence must be provided by calculation). The EU Regulation 2092/91 limits the nutrient input of farm yard manures to 170kgN/ha; while neither of the farms (the exporting farm and the receiving farm) may exceed this limit. Organic farming should be performed based on the principle of a closed system with self sufficiency in fertilizer supply but no excessive manure should be produced nor applied.
Free range conditions, access - CH Regulation/Ordinance 2005
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The Swiss Ordinance on animal friendly husbandry defines the rules for organic farms in detail. Minimal hours and minimal amount of days for access to outdoor runs are required, further more minimal area per animal category are defined. Also in winter time access to the outdoors must be provided.
Swiss Ordinance requires bigger outdoor areas than the EU Regulation 2092/91 does. Equine 9 + 0,7 per 100 kg (EU only 3.7m2), Sheep and goats 4 m2 (EU only 2.5m2), Bovine /example adult female: 12 m2 (EU only 4.5 m2). The Swiss Ordinance furthermore requires access to outdoor runs in winter time, whereas EU Regulation does not. In order to support behavioural needs of animals and the rank dynamic in groups, outdoor runs must be big enough. If of insufficient size animals will not use these areas on a regular basis or fights for rank order will become dangerous for the animals due to lack of space.
Free range conditions, access - CH Regulation/Ordinance 2005
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On at least 26 days per month during vegetation period and on 13 days per month in winter time animals must have access to the outdoors and pasture.
While Swiss Ordinance rules the minimal number of days per month of access to pasture or outdoor run in detail, the EU Regulation 2092/91 leaves it to a general principle, not fixing a minimal number of days for outdoor access and not requiring outdoor access during winter time (if pasture was used in summer). From an ethological point of view regular access to the outdoor area is seen as an essential need of farm animals throughout the year.
Full farm conversion - CH regulation/Ordinance 2005
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The whole farm must be under organic management
The Swiss Ordinance requires full farm conversion. In exceptional cases split production of fruit crops and vine as conventional crops on a organic farm can be admitted. The EU Regulation 2092/91 does allow split production (conventional and organic by the same manager) for all branches in a farm. In order not to jeopardize the credibility of organic farming in the consumers perception and in order to minimise the danger of fraud in the farms, the Swiss Ordinance generally insists in full organic management of all areas in an operation.
Livestock management, physical operations/mutilations - CH Regulation/Ordinance 2005
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Dehorning of adult ruminants may only occur for safety reasons and not in the months of May - August. Dehorning must be carried out under narcosis.
Swiss Ordinance is more detailed than the EU Regulation 2092/91: dehorning must be carried out by a veterinarian and under narcosis, while EU Regulation mentions only the dehorning of young animals, with a requirement to minimize the suffering of animals in general. Mutilations such as dehorning strongly interfere with the ethological well-being of the animal.They should only be done if absolutely necessary, if at all, and in the most gentle and careful way to avoid suffering of the animal.
Manure fertilizers and compost - CH Regulation/Ordinance 2005
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Farmyard manure and compost should be derived from own organic operation or from other extensive farms.
In general the list of fertilizers is comparable with the EU Regulation 2092/91. Some fertilizers of the EU list are restricted in the positive list of the Swiss Ordinance (e.g. guano) No justification was available.
Manure fertilizers, export - CH Regulation 2005
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Export of manure can only occur to farms, which also comply with the maximum level of not more than 2.5 LSU/ha (Livestock units/ha). Purchase contracts for farmyard manure are only possible between holdings which provide the ecological services laid down in the Swiss Ordinance on Direct Payments of 7 December 1998 (ODP).
While the Swiss Ordinance excludes intensive stocking rates by strictly limiting manure exports from the farm, EU Regulation 2092/91 limits the manure used on the own farm to 170kgN/ha: Excessive manure can be exported to organic farms which also comply with the limit of not more than 170kgN/ha. By these means, the goal of closed circles in organic farming of self-sufficiency with fodder and nutrients can be reached.
Manure fertilizers, export - CH Swiss Ordinance 2005
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Export of manure can only occur to farms which also comply with the maximum level of not more than 2.5 LSU/ha (Livestock units/ha). Purchase contracts for farmyard manure are only possible between holdings which provide the ecological services laid down in the Swiss Ordinance on Direct Payments of 7 December 1998 (ODP).
While the Swiss Ordinance excludes intensive stocking rates by strictly limiting manure exports from the farm, EU Regulation 2092/91 limits the manure used on the own farm to 170kgN/ha. If manure is exported, the farm receiving the manure must also not exceed the limit of 170kgN/ha. The Swiss Ordinance intends to keep the stocking rate on each organic operation to an less-intensive level (not more than 2.5 LSU/ha). By these means, the goal of closed circles in organic farming, with self-sufficiency of fodder and nutrients can be reached.
Manure fertilizers, intensity - CH Regulation/Ordinance 2005
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The amount of nutrient input must be justified by soil quality and crop requirements: evidence must be provided on the levels of nutrients used on the farm. In no case should rate of nutrient application exceed 2.5 LSU/ha.
Limits for fertilizer use are restricted not only for farmyard manure, but for the combination of all fertilizers used on the farm. Levels must not exceed the needs of the individual crops. The EU Regulation 2092/91 limits farmyard manure and commercial nutrients to a maximum of 170kg/ha, but does not differentiate individual needs of the crops. In order to avoid excessive use of fertilizers and successive contamination of the environment by leached nutrients, Swiss Ordinance limits the nutrient input to the effective levels required by the respective crops.
Manure fertilizers, intensity and import - CH Regulation 2005
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The source of brought-in manures is restricted by the positive list of admitted fertilizers in organic farming. For the export of manure of more than 1 LSU/year, a contract must exist with the farm receiving this manure. This farm must be managed according ecological principles and must not exceed adequate nutrient limits as set by the legislation.
Import of farm yard manure and compost can only occur if a contract exists with the exporting farm and nutrient needs of crops are not exceeded (evidence must be provided by calculation). EU Regulation 2092/91 also requires that farm yard manure is exported to an organic farm and all farms involved in the cooperation must comply with the nutrient limit of max 170kgN/ha. Organic farming should be performed based on the principle of a closed system with self sufficiency in fertilizer supply but no excessive manure should be produced nor applied
Manure fertilizers, origin - CH Regulation 2005
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The source of brought-in manures is restricted by the positive list of admitted fertilizers in organic farming. For export of manure from the own operation of more than 1 LSU/year, a contract must exist with the farm receiving this manure. This farm must be managed according ecological principles and can not exceed adequate nutrient limits as set by the legislation.
Import of farm yard manure and compost can only occur if a contract exists with the exporting farm and nutrient needs of crops are not exceeded (evidence must be provided by calculation). The EU REgulation 2092/91 limits the nutrient input of farm yard manures to 170kgN/ha in general: this limit applies for the exporting farm as well as for the receiving organic farm. Organic farming should be performed based on the principle of a closed system with self sufficiency in fertilizer supply but no excessive manure should be produced nor applied
Milk for offsprings - CH Regulation/Ordinance 2005
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Young mammals must be fed with maternal milk: bovines/bubalus and equines 3 months, sheep and goats 35 days, pigs 40 days.
Swiss Ordinance and EU Regulation 2092/91 regulate the feeding of milk similarly. The Swiss Ordinance is less strict for the duration of feeding milk for the species sheep and goats (only 35 days compared to 45 days for sheep and goat in the EU Regulation). No justification could be given by the standards owners.
Parallel production, crops - CH Regulation/Ordinance 2005
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Parallel production of the same crops is only possible in farms undergoing a step by step conversion and only for the production areas of wine, perennial fruit and ornamental plants (full separation of audit trail must be granted and inspected).
According to the Swiss Ordinance only during a step-by-step conversion period, some exception for the parallel production in perennial fruit crops is possible in the operation. EU Regulation 2092/91 does at any time accept the parallel production of different varieties of the same crop (if clearly distinguishable), if segregation is granted and inspection is performed in the conventional production unit of the operation. By disallowing parallel production the farm situation is more transparent and inspection is easier. These measures support the credibility of organic farming.
Peat - CH Regulation/Ordinance 2005
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Peat can only be used for growing seedlings and marsh beds. Not more than 70% of peat can be added to substratum for seedlings.
The Swiss Ordinance restricts the use of peat to seedling production and within substrata to maximum 70% whereas the EU Regulation 2092/91 only lists peat as admitted 'fertilizer' limited to horticulture (market gardening, floriculture, arboriculture, nursery). Peat is a very limited natural resource which should be used as little as possible to ensure the supply for future generations. Peat production damages natural habitats which is not in line with the sound production methods which organic farming is aiming for.
Plant protection, copper - CH Regulance/Ordinance 2005
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Copper may be applied against fungi in plant production. The limit is at 4kg/ha per year metallic copper or not more than 20kg averaged over 5 consecutive years.
Copper application is restricted to lower quantities (4 kg in general, not more than 6 kg for wine growing). EU Regulation allows 8 kg of copper until the end of 2005 and max 6 kg of copper from January 2006 onwards: no restrictions are made in terms of crops being treated with copper preparations. Copper is being accumulated in the soil: in order to promote sound soil fertility, any accumulation of heavy metals should be avoided - therefore copper applications are restricted to max 4 kg/ha metallic copper
Seed and plant material, origin - CH Regulation/Ordinance 2005
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Seeds, plants and plant propagating material must come from organic holdings. Only if non availability is proven can non-organic sources be used. Government requires to establish a list of available organic seed in a database (OrganicXsees-database provided by FIBL).
Swiss Ordinance requires evidence that seed was ordered by the user in good time. EU Regulation 2092/91 has similar rules for seed source, but does not require evidence of the ordering timescale. In order to enhance the efforts for organic seed production, also farmers are forced to actively search sources of organic seed.
Soil management, steam sterilisation - CH Regulation/Ordinance 2005
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Steam sterilisation of the soil is prohibited in open fields.
The Swiss Ordinance prohibits steam sterilisation of the soil in open fields, whereas EU Regulation 2092/91 does not list this as a prohibited practice. Adapted crop rotation schemes and soil management in organic farming should do enough to avoid soil born diseases and unwanted herbs. Steam sterilisation demands a high input of energy and it cures only the symptoms of the problem but not the cause of unappropriate soil management.
Transport of livestock, before slaughter - CH Regulation/Ordinance 2005 Transport should be careful and with respect: Stress, fear and pain should be avoided as much as possible. Transport may not last longer than 6 hours (Swiss animal law, Sept. 2005) Swiss Ordinance limits the duration of transport to not more than 6 hours. EU Regulation 2092/91 does not specify the maximum duration for transport. Transport to slaughter is a major stress for the animals, even more so if it is combined with animals from other farms. By restricting its duration to a minimal time, this stress can be reduced.