Organic Rules and Certification

All differences in one table by country standards

  • Organic regulations/standards by region
    • Europe
      • UK
        • Governmental regulation
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Title Description Difference Justification and Comments
Animal fodder, roughage requirement, ruminants - UK Compendium 2005 Herbivores, once weaned, are to be reared making the maximum possible use of pastures. Their daily ration must contain at least 60% in dry matter of fresh, dried, or ensiled forage, containing roughage. EU Regulation 2092/91 allows a reduction, from 60% to 50%, in the minimum proportion of forage for the daily ration of dairy animals up to a maximum of 3 months in early lactation. This reduction is not permitted in the UK Compendium. The EU Regulation allows a higher carbohydrate, lower fibre, cereal-based ration to be fed to dairy animals in early lactation. This ration may promote higher daily milk yields but may also increase the risks to the health, welfare, and longevity of the animals. The higher concentrate ration risks compromising the health and welfare of the livestock.
Animal health plan - UK Compendium 2005 After starting with a paragraph defining veterinary terms to be used in subsequent paragraphs, the UK Compendium then requires the preparation and implementation of a Livestock Health Plan, based on positive animal welfare and the building up of positive health to achieve a progressive reduction of disease risks. UK Compendium, Paragraph 5.1.1 contains definitions of terms in addition to the EU Regulation text. Paragraph 5.1.2 then refers to the principles of positive welfare and positive health, and requires a Livestock Health Plan to be drawn up, implemented and monitored. This plan should be designed to suit the individual circumstances of the farm, to build up levels of health as a means to reduce disease risks, and thus to progressively reduce the reliance on veterinary medication for disease control. EU Regulation 2092/91 contains no requirement for a livestock health plan. UK Compendium, Paragraph 5.1.3 is identical to EU Regulation, Paragraph 5.1. For organic livestock husbandry, animal health plans provide a standard means to: a) ensure compliance with organic standards, b) apply best practice and promote positive animal health, c) allow the monitoring of health indicators for a planned, progressive reduction in the use of allopathic treatments. They function as a management tool for farmers and herd managers, and a health and welfare evaluation tool for organic inspectors. This planned and monitored approach to animal health is seen as best practice in UK livestock husbandry. It contributes to the fulfilment and verification of the practices and positive outcomes of organic livestock husbandry.
Conversion of land, livestock production - UK Compendium 2005 As a derogation from the principle that all farmland and livestock enterprises must undergo the full conversion period, this may be reduced to 1 year for areas used for non-herbivorous livestock under certain conditions. These conditions are that the land in question has received no prohibited inputs for a year before the start of the conversion period and that authorisation is obtained from the inspection body. UK Compendium states that areas used for non-herbivorous livestock may have a reduced conversion period of 1 year only if they have received no prohibited inputs for at least 1 year before the start of the conversion period. EU Regulation 2092/91 allows a reduced conversion period of 1 year for any land used for non-herbivore livestock, and it allows this conversion period to be further reduced to 6 months if prohibited inputs have been absent for 1 year. UK Compendium aims to reduce the health risk to the consumer that might result from contamination of organic products with prohibited substances. This helps to verify the organic status of livestock products. It continues the historically more restrictive UK standards on organic livestock conversion periods. The amendment was requested by UK inspection bodies.
Conversion, livestock and animal products - UK Compendium 2005 During the conversion period, livestock, except poultry, reared for organic meat must be reared from birth as organic. If their offspring are to be used as organic meat animals, breeding ewes, female goats and sows must be managed as organic from mating. Breeding cattle must be managed as organic for at least 12 weeks before the birth of offspring to be reared for organic meat. There are other periods specified for other classes of livestock to be managed as organic if their products are to be sold as organic. UK Compendium specifies that, for offspring to be sold as organic meat, the breeding female must be in organic management after mating for small ruminants and pigs, for at least 12 weeks before birth for cattle, and all these offspring must be reared as organic from birth. EU Regulation 2092/91 requires that organic management must be for at least 12 months or three quarters of lifetime, whichever is longer, for bovines and equidae reared for meat, and six months for small ruminants and pigs. EU Regulation makes no mention here of the management of breeding females after mating. For milk production, UK Compendium requires that cattle must be in organic management for 9 months before the milk can be sold as organic, with organic feed management for at least 6 months. EU Regulation requires 6 months organic management for all milk producing animals. The UK Compendium livestock conversion rule aims to eliminate any possible consumer health risks that might arise from non-organic livestock management by ensuring that organic meat animals have been in organic management since birth, and even during their gestation. UK Compendium makes no mention of equidae because this is a class of livestock rarely used for food in UK. The amendment was requested by UK inspection bodies.
Conversion, simultaneous conversion of livestock and land - UK Compendium 2005 A complete production unit, including livestock enterprises, may be simultaneously converted to organic status in 24 months. However, cattle reared for organic meat must have been born to cattle managed organically for at least 12 weeks before calving, other livestock for meat must be the offspring of organically managed female stock, and livestock for organic meat must be fed mostly on products of the unit. Fully organic livestock may be bought or sold from the unit, but their products may not be sold as organic until completion of the latest 24-month conversion period among production units where they have been present. The UK Compendium adds an additional subsection stating that fully organic livestock may be bought and sold from a converting livestock unit, but that their products may be sold as organic only after 24 months from the latest conversion start-date of the units where they have been present. UK Compendium specifies again here, as in Paragraph 2.2.1, that for offspring to be sold as organic meat after simultaneous conversion, the breeding female must be in organic management after mating for small ruminants and pigs, for at least 12 weeks before birth for cattle, and all these offspring must be reared as organic from birth. EU Regulation 2092/91 does not contain this specification. The UK Compendium rule ensures some flexibility in the purchase or sale of organic livestock for the in-conversion holding, without compromising the organic status of livestock products. This additional subsection is a qualification to the statement that the derogation applies only to existing animals. UK Compendium's rule repeats its conversion rule on how animals for meat may be sold as organic, to eliminate possible consumer health risks for organic consumers from non-organic livestock management.
Livestock housing, cleaning - UK Compendium 2005 Buildings must be cleaned and disinfected between batches of poultry. Runs must be left empty between batches for specified minimum periods. UK Compendium requires a minimum rest period for poultry runs of 2 months, and in particular, specifies a minimum rest period of 2 months per year for the runs of poultry for meat production. UK Compendium, Annex IB, Paragraph 8.4.6. The UK compendium is more precise with regard to the minimum rest period, whereas the EU Regulation 2092/91 leaves the precise rest period between batches for poultry runs to be decided by member states. UK Compendium follows the requirements of EU Regulation in deciding on national level on minimum rest periods for runs accommodating the different classes of poultry.
Livestock housing, general requirements, poultry - UK Compendium 2005
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Conditions for poultry housing are specified, regarding their integrity, flooring, bedding, perches, pop-holes and maximum stock numbers. UK Compendium, Annex IB, Paragraph 8.4.3.
The paragraph in UK Compendium contains text not included in the EU Regulation 2092/91, as follows: "poultry houses must be structured with their own dedicated grazing, air space, ventilation, feed and water." This rule is otherwise identical to the EU Regulation. The additional UK Compendium text is designed to facilitate the inclusion of more than one poultry house in a single building. It makes it clear that each house must be completely separate from any others nearby.
Livestock management, physical operations/mutilations - UK Compendium 2005 Although practices involving mutilations such as tail docking and dehorning should not be systematically practised on organic farms, inspection bodies may authorise such practices to benefit the health, hygiene or welfare of livestock, or for safety reasons. All such operations should be recorded in the Livestock Health Plan, and they should be carried out by qualified staff with the minimum possible suffering for the animals. UK Compendium, Annex IB, Paragraph 6.1.2. The UK Compendium standards on operations involving animal mutilations, such as tail docking or dehorning, are identical to the EU Regulation 2092/91 except for their additional requirement to record the operations in the Livestock Health Plan, which is itself a separate requirement set out in UK Compendium, Paragraph 2.1.2. (see the relevant difference item). EU Regulation contains no separate requirement for a Livestock Health Plan, so it cannot include a requirement to include any specific operations in this health plan. The UK Compendium requires all operations affecting livestock health and welfare to be recorded in the Livestock Health Plan, not only those involving mutilations. The requirement is mentioned again specifically in Paragraph 6.1.2. to ensure clarity and enforceability.
Livestock management, tethering - UK Compendium 2005 Defra do not allocate the paragraph that would correspond with the EU Regulation derogation on cattle tethering in older buildings. EU Regulations allow a derogation for livestock enterprises with older buildings, which were designed for the housing of tethered cattle, to continue the practice of tethering until the end of 2010, providing that certain conditions be met regarding the animals welfare. The UK Compendium contains no such derogation. This derogation on cattle tethering would be a redundant feature of UK organic standards. In the EU Regulation, it is included to give time for changes in husbandry practice and for the depreciation of the value of livestock housing built before the tethering prohibition was introduced. No such buildings have existed in UK for a long time, and animal housing is mostly in cubicles or loose houses.
Origin of livestock, replacements - UK Compendium 2005 In a derogation from the rule that all livestock must have been organically managed throughout their lives, where appropriate organic livestock are unavailable, a limited proportion of non-organic animals may, with inspection body authorisation, be bought-in for herd/flock growth or renewal. The products of these animals must be subject to the rules for organic conversion with some stated modifications. UK Compendium Standards contain further restrictions on replacement stock compared to EU Regulation 2092/91. EU Regulation allows 20% per year of the existing herd number of pigs, sheep and goats to be brought in as adult, non-organic livestock for conversion, where organic animals are unavailable. UK Compendium allows only a 10% per year figure for all livestock, except the 20% per year permitted for sheep. Before their products may be sold as organic, UK Compendium requires such animals to remain in organic management for a full period of conversion as specified in UK Compendium, Paragraph 2.2.1. (see UK Compendium Difference "Conversion of livestock - organic status of livestock products"), with a slight modification for milk from dairy animals. In UK Compendium, the increased regulation of the purchase of non-organic pigs and goats helps to maintain herd or flock biosecurity. The cross reference to the rules in UK Compendium, Paragraph 2.2.1. aims to eliminate any possible consumer health risks that might arise from non-organic livestock management by ensuring that organic meat animals have been in organic management since birth, and even during their gestation.
Parallel production, grazing, livestock - UK Compendium 2005 As a derogation from the principle that organic pasture should be for organic livestock, non-organic livestock are permitted to graze organic land for a maximum of 120 days per year, as long as these animals are extensively reared, organic animals are not grazing with them, and authorisation has been obtained from the inspection body. The UK Compendium contains further detail to the EU Regulation 2092/91. UK Compendium specifies a maximum annual period of 120 days that non-organic livestock may use organic pasture. EU Regulation merely states "a limited period of time each year" without specifying the maximum length of time. UK Compendium continues the previous UK limit of 120 days because this is more specific and enforceable than the unspecified EU restriction on the period that non-organic livestock may use organic pasture. The additional text was requested by UK inspection bodies.
Parallel production, livestock - UK Compendium 2005
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Where they are present on the same farm, non-organic livestock must be reared on units clearly separated from organic livestock, they must be of different species, and organic livestock enterprises or holdings must be kept physically, financially, and operationally separate from non organic enterprises or holdings. Compendium of UK Organic Standards, Annex IB, Paragraph 1.6
The UK Compendium contains further detail to the EU Regulation 2092/91. UK Compendium requires that organic livestock enterprises or holdings must be kept physically, financially, and operationally separate from non-organic enterprises or holdings. Both EU Standards and UK Compendium require that organic livestock be reared in land parcels and buildings separate from non-organic livestock on the same holding and be of different species. The additional UK Compendium text aims to ensure that organic livestock holdings and enterprises are kept entirely separate from non-organic holdings and enterprises. This helps to verify the organic status of livestock products, and it helps maintain biosecurity of organic livestock units. Livestock traceability, organic verification, and biosecurity are particular concerns in UK after recent national livestock health problems, such as BSE and Foot & Mouth Disease. Biosecurity may also help to reduce the occurrence of other endemic livestock diseases.
Slaughter, minimum age - UK Compendium 2005 The minimum ages for slaughter of various classes of poultry are specified, with an exception allowed in the case of slow growing strains. Capons are included in the list in the EU Regulation 2092/91 but not in UK Compendium. Capons are omitted from the list in the UK Compendium, to avoid redundancy of information, because this class of poultry is not reared in UK due to the requirement for a vet for the castration process.
Veterinary treatent, parasite control - UK Compendium 2005 Growth promoting substances, or hormones to promote growth or affect reproduction, may not be used, but hormones may be used for the therapeutic veterinary treatment of an individual animal. Veterinary treatments that are compulsory under national or EU law are not prohibited. Livestock may not be treated with organophosphate chemicals. However, f they must be treated with organophosphates by law, then they must be permanently marked, their meat may not be sold as organic, and their other products may be sold as organic only after a full conversion period. UK Compendium contains an additional subsection, which places a prohibition on the use of organophosphate (OP) treatments, If OP treatments must be used by law, then the meat from the treated animal may not be sold as organic, and its other products may be sold as organic only with inspection body agreement and after a full conversion period. EU Regulation 2092/91 does not mention OP treatments. Otherwise, UK Compendium standards on growth promoters and hormones are identical to the EU Regulation. A specific prohibition on organic status for animals exposed to organophosphate chemicals is considered necessary to ensure that organic products will not pose any public health risk. Organophosphate chemicals have been suspected of involvement in a number of degenerative nervous diseases in both livestock and people, and these problems have been well publicised in UK. The additional text in UK Compendium continues a prohibition on organophosphate treatments in UK organic standards, which pre-dates the EU Regulation.
Veterinary treatment, alllopathic products - UK Compendium 2005 Veterinary treatments should conform to national and EU laws. Recommended types of treatment should be preferred to chemically synthesised allopathic products for treating disease. Chemically synthesised allopathic products, including antibiotics, should be used if essential for animal welfare. Preventative treatments may not include chemically synthesised allopathic products, except when agreed by the inspection body for identifiable disease risks. Vaccines may be more used early on in a Livestock Health Plan for identifiable disease risks. The aim must be to progressively reduce reliance on such treatments by reducing disease risks. All health treatments must be summarised in the Livestock Health Plan. UK Compendium makes clear that all organic veterinary treatments should be within the normal legal limitations, but this is not specified in the EU Regulation 2092/91. For preventative treatments, the EU Regulation prohibits any use of chemically synthesised allopathic products, and it makes no mention of animal health plans. UK Compendium permits the use of such treatments, when animal welfare is cannot be otherwise assured due to an identifiable disease risk, but only in the context of the Livestock Health Plan required by UK Compendium, Paragraph 5.1.2. Particularly during organic conversion, the use of these treatments may be permitted by the Inspection body. Vaccines are also permitted for identifiable risks. The livestock health plan should provide the means to progressively reduce the disease risks and their associated veterinary treatments, and it must include a summary of all veterinary and health treatments. UK Compendium clarifies that there are no legal exceptions for organic livestock producers. UK Compendium aims to avoid problems that may result from removal of conventional veterinary treatments before organic husbandry methods have had enough time to improve livestock health status and to reduce disease risks. The livestock manager is given time to learn, and this also helps avoid health and welfare problems during organic conversion. UK Compendium?s requirement for a Livestock Health Plan enables this gradual approach during the conversion period, aiming to maintain optimum levels of animal welfare at every stage.
Veterinary treatment, allopathic products, treatment frequency - UK Compendium 2005 After more than three courses of treatment involving chemically synthesised allopathic veterinary medicines, or more than one course for an animal with a productive lifecycle of less than one year, an animal will need to go through a complete organic conversion period in order for its products to be sold as organic. However, this rule does not apply to vaccinations, parasite treatments, and compulsory treatments. An additional interpretive note in the UK Compendium makes clear that a course of treatment includes all treatments given for a particular disease episode. The EU Regulation 2092/91 is more general. The EU Regulation could possibly be interpreted more strictly than it is by DEFRA, and the interpretive note removes any doubt about the interpretation.
Veterinary treatment, withdrawral period - UK Compendium 2005 There must be a withdrawal period from the last administration of an allopathic veterinary medicine to the sale of organic livestock products from the same animal. This must be at least twice the normal, legal minimum withdrawal period, or 48 hours if the latter is unspecified. If the medicine is chemically synthesised, and if it is used in a different way to that specified in the Marketing Authorisation, there is one withdrawal period specified for eggs and milk, and another for meat. EU Regulation 2092/91 refers only to allopathic veterinary medicines and specifies twice the legal minimum withdrawal period. The UK Compendium additionally specifies minimum withdrawal periods for organic livestock products after the use of chemically synthesised allopathic veterinary medicines other than that specified in the Marketing Authorisation. The UK Compendium applies a more precautionary approach than EU Regulation, regarding product withdrawal periods after the use of chemically synthesised allopathic veterinary medicines, to avoid consumer health risks from exposure to chemical residues in organic products.