Organic Rules and Certification

All differences in one table by country standards

  • Organic regulations/standards by region
    • Europe
      • UK
        • Soil Association Organic Standards
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Title Description Difference Justification and Comments
Animal fodder, animal origin - UK Soil Association Organic Standards 2005 There is a limited list of feeds of animal origin permitted for feeding to livestock. Certain items on this list are permitted to be fed only to non-herbivores. Soil Association Organic Standards. Paragraph 10.13.23. Soil Association standards are more restrictive than EU Regulation 2092/91. Soil Association standards specify that fish molluscan or crustacean autolysates, hydrolysates and proteolysates obtained by enzyme action, fish oil, and fishmeal may be fed only to non-herbivores. EU Regulation allows feeding of these products to both herbivores and non-herbivores. Feeding fish products to herbivores is incompatible with their innate behaviour and therefore contradicts the principles of care and fairness.
Animal fodder, animal origin, fish products - UK Soil Association Organic Standards 2005 There is a limited list of feeds of animal origin permitted for feeding to animals. Among these, any fish products must be either a by-product of fish for human consumption or from fisheries certified as being sustainably managed. Soil Association Organic Standards. Paragraph 10.13.23. Soil Association standards contain an additional restriction not included in EU Regulation 2092/91. Soil Association standards state that fish products for animal feed must be either by-products of human consumption or products of fisheries certified by a recognised body as sustainably managed. EU Regulation 2092/91 allows the use of any fish product for this purpose. The Soil Association standards aim to ensure that the use of fish products for organic animal feed does not increase the amount of unsustainable fishing.
Animal fodder, origin - UK Soil Association Organic Standards 2005 Minimum proportions of fibrous, home-produced, in-conversion, and organic feedstuffs are specified for livestock feed rations. Soil Association Organic Standards. Paragraph 10.13.13 and 10.13.15. The Soil Association standards contain further restrictions to the EU Regulation 2092/91. The EU Regulation requires at least 50% of feed for herbivores to be produced on the farm unit or on linked farms. The Soil Association standards require this proportion to be 60%, and they set a minimum proportion of 50% of feed for non-herbivores to be produced on the farm unit or on linked farms to be effective from 1st January 2011. Soil Association standards are intended to conserve energy resources by reducing feed transport and to encourage producers to design their organic holdings or groups of holdings as whole farm systems with relatively closed production cycles, minimising inputs and so conserving resources for sustainable best practice.
Animal fodder, roughage requirement, ruminants - UK Soil Association Organic Standards 2005 Soil Association standards (Paragraphs 11.3.2) set a minimum proportion of fibrous feed and a maximum proportion of concentrate feed in the rations of cattle, sheep and goats after weaning. The Soil Association specifies a minimum of 60% roughage, fresh or dried fodder, or silage for all cattle, sheep and goats (after weaning). In this case, the Soil Association complies with the UK Compendium of Organic Standards, Annex 1B, Paragraph 4.7. Soil Association Organic Standards. 11.3.5, and 12.3.7. Soil Association Standards use the most strict option provided within EU Regulation 2092/91 regarding herbivore feed rations, as follows. EU Regulation permits inspection bodies to authorise a reduction from 60% to 50% in the minimum proportion of fibrous forage in the daily ration of dairy animals during the first 3 months of lactation. The EU Regulation allows inspection bodies to authorise 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 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 Soil Association Organic Standards 2005 Soil Association Organic Standards. Paragraph 10.3.3. The livestock management plan must include a livestock health plan, preferably made with assistance of the farm veterinarian; showing how disease resistance will be built and how the use of veterinary medicines will be minimised. There are a number of detailed specifications that must be implemented in the livestock health plan. The plan must include health management during and after conversion, methods used to monitor and diagnose disease, disease control measures, the methods used to reduce pre-existing livestock health problems. The Soil Association have templates available to assist producers in formulating these livestock management and health plans. In their requirement for a livestock health plan, the Soil Association standards comply with the UK Compendium of Organic Standards, Annex 1B, Paragraph 5.1. Soil Association standards contain detailed specifications not included in the EU Regulation 2092/91. Soil Association standards require that the livestock management plan should include a livestock health plan, preferably made with the assistance of the farm vet. EU Regulation mentions the requirement for a livestock health plan as part of the general requirements for a management plan for the organic-production livestock unit in Annex III, Paragraph 1, but includes no further relevant guidance or requirements. The Soil Association standards specifications and guidance for livestock health plans are intended to provide a standard means to apply best practice and promote positive animal health, and to allow the monitoring of health indicators for a progressive reduction of veterinary treatments. Livestock health plans are a management tool for producers and a health and welfare evaluation tool for organic inspectors. They are seen as best practice in UK livestock husbandry, contributing to the fulfilment and verification of the practices and positive outcomes of organic livestock husbandry.
Aquaculture, general requirements - UK Soil Association Organic Standards 2005
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There is a substantial chapter containing detailed and comprehensive organic standards for aquaculture. The Soil Association standards on aquaculture contain subsections on system management, organic conversion, eggs and youngstock, environmental management, managing holding facilities, managing water quality, feeding organic stock, maintaining high stock welfare, keeping stock healthy, transporting livestock, harvesting and slaughtering, and record keeping. We do not yet have Soil Association permission to upload very substantial sections of text from the Soil Association Organic Standards, so the file attached contains a list of the associated chapters and subsections together with the text of the first subsection on principles of organic aquaculture.
Soil Association standards contain a set of standards on aquaculture not included in the EU Regulation 2092/91. EU Regulation do not include any standards referring to aquaculture. quaculture is a significant sector of food production. The existence of detailed standards enables the principles of organic food and farming to be put into practice in the fish farming sector, encouraging sustainability throughout the sector and making organic farmed fish available to the market, with consequent benefits to all aspects of sustainability.
Beekeeping, reproduction - UK Soil Association Organic Standards 2005 It is prohibited to clip the wings of the queen bee or to use artificial insemination in beekeeping. Soil Association Organic Standards. Paragraph 15.2.8. Soil Association standards prohibit the use of artificial (instrumental) insemination in bee keeping. EU Regulation 2092/91 does not include this prohibition. The precautionary principle argues against pervasive use of instrumental insemination because the long-term consequences are unpredictable. Instrumental insemination of queen bees may reduce the diversity of the gene pool among honeybees as it involves the male spermatozoa of only one male rather than of 10 to 20 males in natural queen bee fertilisation. Traits may be selected for, such as productivity or resistance to specific diseases, but other useful traits could be lost.
Beekeeping, siting of apiaries - UK Soil Association Organic Standards 2005 Apiaries must be sited on organic land. During flowering and when bees are not dormant, the apiaries must be sited where there is access to bees normal feed resources, where nectar and pollen resources consist essentially of organic crops or uncultivated land within a 4-mile radius around the site (or less with evidence of organic integrity of the honey), and where there is sufficient distance from sources of non agricultural pollution. Soil Association Organic Standards. Paragraphs 15.4.3, 15.4.4 and 15.4.6. Soil Association standards contain further restrictions to the EU Regulation 2092/91. In Soil Association standards for organic honey production and bee keeping, a radius of 4 miles is required around the apiary site, within which nectar and pollen sources must consist essentially of organic crops or uncultivated land during periods of flowering and bee activity. Soil Association permission may be given for a smaller radius if evidence can be provided of the organic integrity of the honey, such as pesticide residue analysis of the honey and land management information about the surrounding land. In EU Regulation, this radius is 3 kilometres and there is no mention of provision of extra information. The larger area of organic crops or uncultivated land required around an apiary by the Soil Association standards is intended to ensure that the honey will contain the minimum possible amounts of residues of any prohibited agricultural inputs. For this purpose, some flexibility regarding the required area is provided on condition that evidence is given to prove the lack of such residues and of sources of prohibited inputs near the apiary.
Biodiversity, landscape - UK Soil Association Organic Standards 2005
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There are a number of recommendations and requirements concerning environment management and conservation of landscape features, semi-natural habitats and wild species on the farm. Soil Association standards recommend that organic management should aim to achieve a productive, balanced and varied agro-ecosystem with high standards of conservation management and co-operation with conservation bodies. Producers must comply with all relevant legislation and must not plough, reseed or drain any area identified as a 'regionally or locally important wildlife site' by a county Wildlife Trust or County Environment Records Centre. Producers must not in any way damage statutory 'recognised sites', of which the types are listed. Producers must not clear vegetation or crop wastes or stubbles by burning. (Soil Association Organic Standards. Paragraphs 4.5.1-4.5.5.)
Soil Association standards contain detailed recommendations and requirements to support the agro-ecosystem whereas EU Regulation 2092/91 does not include any specific recommendations or requirements relating to environmental management or conservation. The Soil Association Standards use best practice recommendations from other UK conservation bodies, added to some UK agricultural regulations, to explain conservation principles and outline best environment management practice to ensure that organic producers will produce optimum outcomes for landscape features, semi-natural habitats and wild species on the farm.
Biodiversity, landscape - UK Soil Association Organic Standards 2005
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There are specific recommendations and requirements for managing semi-natural habitats, trees, woodland, farm buildings and water resources. Soil Association Standards include detailed management recommendations and requirements, in separate sections, for semi-natural habitats, trees and woodland, farm buildings, and water resources. For each of these categories, the standards explain the main issues, including the wildlife and other conservation benefits, the recommendations for best practice management, and the basic requirements that producers must adhere to. The exception to this is for water resources, for which there are basic requirements but no recommendations. Soil Association Certification Limited is currently proposing a more detailed set of new recommendations and requirements for management of watercourses, water resources, soil and ground water, surface water, storage and abstraction, and irrigation. (Soil Association Organic Standards. Paragraphs 4.5.18-4.5.31.)
Soil Association standards contain detailed recommendations and requirements not included in the EU Regulation 2092/91. EU Regulation includes no specifically relevant requirements or recommendations. Semi-natural habitats, trees and woodland, farm buildings, and water resources are all important for wildlife and conservation management.
Collection of wild plants - UK Soil Association Organic Standards 2005 Harvesting of wild plants for sale as organic must meet organic standards, comply with the law, not endanger species nor disturb habitat stability, not be on land recently contaminated with prohibited inputs, and must be sufficiently distant from sources of prohibited inputs or pollution. Soil Association Organic Standards. Paragraphs 9.1.4 - 9.1.11. Soil Association standards are more detailed than EU Regulation 2092/91. Soil Association standards require that wild harvesting of crops for sale as organic must comply with the organic standards and with the law, must not be of species defined as "critically endangered" in the World Conservation Union red list, and must be on land at least 10 metres from non organic agriculture and 50 metres from non agricultural pollution sources. The land should be accessible to inspection, and should be identified on maps with the organic certification application. EU Regulation does not have these requirements. The Soil Association standards on wild plant collection are intended to minimise the risk that the wild harvesting of plants may result either in contamination of organic products or damage to semi-natural habitats and endangered species. They seek to ensure that organic standards are fully effective for organic wild harvested products.
Collection of wild plants, harvesting methods - UK Soil Association Organic Standards 2005
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Harvesting of wild plants for sale as organic must be conducted at the best time of year. It must include only the appropriate parts of the plants, and a number of details are included regarding different types of plants. Sufficient mature plants must be left for the survival of dependent wildlife, damage to other species and to the habitat must be avoided, and samples must be kept of every batch harvested. (Soil Association Organic Standards. Subsection 9.3.)
Soil Association standards are more precise than EU Regulation 2092/91. Soil Association wild plant harvesting standards include specifications regarding appropriate timing, the parts of plants that may be harvested, and appropriate replanting. It is specified that enough mature plants must be left for wildlife that depend on them, that damage must be avoided to other species, that beneficial relationships among plant species must be respected, erosion must be avoided, and samples of harvested batches must be kept. EU Regulations do not contain these requirements, only maintaining that the areas concerned must not have been treated with prohibited inputs for the previous 3 years, and that the harvesting does not affect the habitat stability or the maintenance of the species harvested. Soil Association standards on wild plant harvesting are intended to maximise the quality of the product and to minimise the risk of damage to the species harvested or to other species in the same habitat. The intention is to provide a comprehensive set of rules for organic wild plant harvesting, rather than merely a brief statement of intent.
Collection of wild plants, management plan - UK Soil Association Organic Standards 2005
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A wild harvesting management plan, agreed with Soil Association, is required and must be adhered to. It must include the harvest areas, personnel, times, quantities, species, environmental management, etc. There are a substantial number of further details set out in Soil Association standards regarding various aspects of the wild harvesting management plan and its implementation. (Soil Association Organic Standards. Subsection 9.2.)
Soil Association standards include a set of rules not contained in the EU Regulation 2092/91. Soil Association standards for wild plant harvesting require the agreement, implementation and monitoring of a wild harvesting management plan. This must include harvest areas, personnel, times, quantities, species, quality, making good procedures, environmental management, etc. EU Regulation does not require any similar type of wild harvesting management plan. Soil Association standards' requirement for a comprehensive and detailed wild harvest management plan is intended to maximise the quality of the product and to minimise the risks of unsustainable damage either to the species harvested or to other species in its surrounding habitat.
Conservation, farm plan - UK Soil Association Organic Standards 2005
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Producers should keep a farm conservation plan, designed with professional help, and they must map all the main landscape features, wildlife habitats and historical features on the holding. The standards require the producer to map all the recognised wildlife habitats and landscape sites, and the archeological and historical features on the holding, and to formally revise the map every 5 years. (Soil Association Organic Standards. Paragraphs 4.5.6-4.5.8.)
Soil Association standards contain recommendations and requirements not included in the EU Regulation 2092/91. Soil Association standards recommend that producers should keep a constantly updated whole farm conservation plan, drawn up with the help of a professional advisor. EU Regulation does not contain recommendations or requirements for a farm conservation plan. The Soil Association recommendations are meant to encourage best practice and optimal outcomes from the conservation management. The requirement to map the main habitats and features is also a requirement of the main funding scheme for organic farmers in England to ensure a basic level of conservation management on organic farms.
Conservation, field boundary management - UK Soil Association Organic Standards 2005
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There are detailed recommendations and requirements regarding field boundary management. Soil Association Standards contain detailed recommendations for the management of field boundaries, starting with an explanation of their main functions and conservation benefits and continuing with more practical advice on their management. The standards require that producers must manage river banks to minimise soil erosion and nutrient run-off, must obtain Soil Association permission to remove hedges, banks, ditches or walls, or to trim hedges annually (e.g. for road traffic safety or wildlife benefits). Producers must not trim hedges during the bird nesting season. (Soil Association Organic Standards. Paragraphs 4.5.9-4.5.17.)
Soil Association standards contain recommendations and requirements whereas EU Regulation 2092/91 does not include any recommendations or requirements for field boundary management. Soil Association Standards give detailed recommendations for hedge management encourage best practice among organic farmers to optimise the outcomes of their field boundary management for wildlife and for landscape visual impact. The requirements and prohibitions ensure a basic level of positive boundary management and prohibit the worst types of management. In England, these requirements are mostly required by the main organic farming funding scheme.
Conservation, primary ecosystems/forests - UK Soil Association Organic Standards 2005 Land with primary ecosystems, such as virgin rainforest, must not be cleared for organic production. Soil Association Standards prohibit the clearing of primary ecosystems for conversion to organic production. They define 'primary ecosystems' as ecosystems that have not been 'disturbed by man's activities', and they give the example of virgin rainforest. (Soil Association Organic Standards. Glossary and Paragraph 4.1.4.) Soil Association standards contain a rule not included in EU Regulation 2092/91. EU Regulation does not contain this prohibition. Soil Association standards are intended to ensure that no primary ecosystems will be damaged or destroyed in order to clear land for organic production.
Contamination, GMO crops - UK Soil Association Organic Standards 2005 Genetically modified crops must not be grown on any holding in the same ownership or management as an organic holding. Applicants for conversion must inform the Soil Association if they have grown genetically modified crops in the previous three years. Soil Association Organic Standards. Paragraph 3.6.19. Soil Association standards contain a prohibition and a requirement not included in EU Regulation 2092/91. Soil Association standards prohibit the growing of any genetically modified crop on any land under the same ownership or management as an organic holding, and they require to be informed if an applicant for conversion has grown genetically modified crops in the previous three years. EU Regulation has no similar prohibition or requirement. The Soil Association standards aim to prevent any possible contamination of organic crops with genetically modified material by prohibiting the owner or manager of an organic holding. The requirement to be informed if an applicant has grown them in the previous three years would help them to be more vigilant if necessary in this aspect of inspection. Genetically modified organisms (GMO) are prohibited from use in organic farming because of the unpredictable nature of the technology, and the risks to health and the environment.
Contamination, GMO crops, location - UK Soil Association Organic Standards 2005 The organic farmer must inform Soil Association of any genetically modified crop being grown within 6 miles of an organic crop under their inspection system. Soil Association will assess the risk of contamination of the organic farm and crops. Soil Association Organic Standards. Paragraphs 3.6.20-3.6.22. Soil Association standards contain requirements not included in EU Regulation 2092/91. Soil Association standards require the organic farmer to inform them of any genetically modified crop being grown within 6 miles of the organic farm. Soil Association will assess the contamination risks and decide accordingly on further action. EU Regulation has no similar requirement. Although pollen from genetically modified crops can travel much further than 6 miles, the Soil Association have taken this distance as a reasonable cut-off point to identify possible contamination of organic farms and crops. Genetically modified organisms are prohibited from use in organic farming because of the unpredictable nature of the technology, and the risks to health and the environment.
Contamination, buffer zones, conventional agriculture - UK Soil Association Organic Standards 2005 Where organic crops are grown next to non-organic crops, there must be an effective windbreak if there is any risk of spray drift or other contamination. This buffer zone must be 10 metres wide, or increased to 20 metres if the organic crop is next to a sprayed orchard. Otherwise, there must be a buffer zone of specified width, within which the crops cannot be sold as organic. Soil Association Organic Standards. Paragraphs 3.7.2-3.7.4. Soil Association standards are very precise. They require that, where organic crops are growing next to non-organic crops, there must be an effective windbreak if there is any risk of spray drift or other contamination. Otherwise, there must be a buffer zone, within which the crops cannot be sold as organic. EU Regulation 2092/91 states only that the organic unit must have land parcels and production that are clearly separate from non-organic units. Soil Association standards are intended to minimise health risks that may result from the contamination of organic crops with prohibited inputs by minimising the amounts carried onto the holding by the wind. To be more effective in this purpose, the minimum requirements to achieve it are specified, whereas EU Regulation leaves the purpose and the means open to interpretation.
Conversion of land, livestock production - UK Soil Association Organic Standards 2005 Production of organic pigs or poultry may be started on land in the second year of conversion if it has received no prohibited inputs for at least 2 years (i.e. for 1 year before the start of conversion). The livestock concerned must have been fed no genetically modified feed for 12 months before the start of conversion. Soil Association Organic Standards. Paragraphs 4.3.10, 13.1.2 and 20.2.2. Soil Association standards contain further restrictions to the EU Regulation 2092/91. Soil Association standards state that areas used for production of organic pigs and poultry, with Soil Association permission, during the second year of conversion must not have received prohibited inputs for at least 2 years, and no genetically modified feed must have been fed to the livestock during the same period. EU Regulation places no such restriction on previous inputs or feeds. It allows a 1-year conversion period for any land used for organic, non herbivorous livestock, and further allows the conversion period to be reduced to 6 months if prohibited inputs have been absent for 1 year. In this case, the Soil Association is complying with the requirements of the UK Compendium of Organic Standards, Annex 1B, Paragraph 2.1.2, except that UK Compendium does not include the prohibition regarding the previous feeding with genetically modified feeds. Soil Association standards' restriction on previous prohibited inputs is intended to reduce the perceivable health risk to the consumer that might result from contamination of organic livestock products with residues of prohibited inputs. In addition, the prohibition on previous genetically modified feeds is partly a precautionary measure to avoid the unpredictable consequences of unproven technology.
Conversion, GMO crops - UK Soil Association Organic Standards 2005 A 5-year period is required from the harvest of any previous genetically modified crop before the land where it was grown may become fully organic. Soil Association Organic Standards. Paragraph 3.6.17. Soil Association Standards contain a restriction not included in EU Regulation 2092/91. Soil Association standards require a 5-year period from the harvest of any previous genetically modified crop before the land where it was grown may become fully organic. EU Regulation has no similar requirement. Soil Association standards aim to minimise the risks of contaminating organic crops with genetically modified plant material by requiring an extended period for conversion of land after cultivation of genetically modified crops. Genetically modified organisms are prohibited from use in organic farming because of the unpredictable nature of the technology, and the risks to health and the environment.
Conversion, crop rotation - UK Soil Association Organic Standards 2005 Fields starting organic conversion, which have grown a nutrient exploiting crop in the previous two years, such as cereals in the previous 2 years, must start the conversion with a fertility building phase of the crop rotation. (Soil Association Organic Standards. Paragraph 4.2.5.) Soil Association standards are more detailed and have additional requirments than EU Regulation 2092/91. Soil Association Standards require that fields entering organic conversion, which have grown nutrient exploiting crops must start the first rotation of their organic conversion with a fertility building phase. EU Regulation does not contain this requirement, but only a requirement for a multi-annual rotation, including legumes green manures or deep-rooting plants, as the primary means to maintain or increase fertility. This Soil Association requirement enforces best agro-ecological practice at the start of organic conversion. It reduces any possibility that a producer might try to produce a nutrient exploiting crop by applying nutrient inputs to land with low nutrient levels entering conversion. Thus, this rule functions both as a guide for the producer and as a safeguard against poor practice in in-conversion crop production.
Conversion, inspection and monitoring - UK Soil Association Organic Standards 2005 The organic conversion period may be reduced by up to 4 months, with Soil Association permission, only if the producer provides full records to prove that prohibited inputs were not previously used on the land for at least the period of the reduction. Conversion may be further reduced by up to 12 months with Defra permission, only if the same full records are provided and even then only if the land was in a recognised agri-environment scheme that prohibited all of the same inputs for at least the period of the reduction. Soil Association Organic Standards. Paragraphs 4.3.7 and 4.3.8. Soil Association standards specify minimum periods as EU Regulation 2092/91 allows inspection bodies to do. Land must have been monitored by the Soil Association for at least 12 months before the crops may be sold as fully organic. EU Regulation does not include any minimum period for inspection body monitoring of land in conversion. EU Regulation allows the inspection body or authority to reduce the period of organic conversion if the land has been in an officially recognised agri-environment scheme that prohibits all the same inputs as those prohibited by organic standards or if the producer can prove to the inspection body that prohibited inputs have not been used for the period of reduction. Soil Association standards specify a limited reduction period of 4 months if the producer provides proof or 12 months if the land has been in an agri-environment scheme. The specified minimum period for inspection body monitoring of land in conversion is intended to avoid any consumer health problems that might result from the presence of prohibited input residues in organic products, and to ensure that farm system and environmental benefits of organic management will be effective when the land becomes fully organic.
Conversion, livestock and animal products - UK Soil Association Organic Standards 2005
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There are a number of minimum conversion periods and detailed conditions regarding organic conversion of different classes of livestock: all mammalian livestock reared for organic meat must be managed as organic from birth; Permission for buying in non-organic chicks or pullets (with a plan detailing where organic young birds will be obtained in future). Soil Association standards additionally require that non-organic bought-in laying poultry must not have been caged nor had beak mutilations, and after 31st December 2005, they must have been reared to Soil Association veterinary and feed standards. In the following ways, the Soil Association complies with the standards set out in the UK Compendium of Organic Standards, Annex 1B, Paragraph 2.2.1. Soil Association rules specify that, for offspring to be sold as organic meat, the breeding female must be in organic management after mating for small ruminants and pigs, and for at least 12 weeks before birth for cattle. For milk production it is required 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. (Soil Association Organic Standards. Paragraphs 11.1.1, 11.1.2, 12.1.1-12.1.6, 13.1.3, 14.2.1-14.2.3, 20.3.1, 20.3.2, and 20.4.2-20.4.4.)
Soil Association standards mean all mammalian livestock reared for organic meat must be managed 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, and six months for small ruminants and pigs. Permission for buying in non-organic chicks or pullets is conditional whereas EU Regulation do not include such a condition. Furthermore EU Regulation make no mention of the management of breeding females. EU Regulation requires 6 months organic management for all milk-producing animals (and not 9 months as Soil Association). The Soil Association livestock conversion rules aim to eliminate any consumer health risks from non-organic management by ensuring that mammals reared for organic meat have been in organic management since birth, and even during their gestation. It is also an animal welfare issue. In order to prevent organic producers from providing a market for industry sectors in which birds are mistreated, the standards aim to ensure that the market demand for organic young birds will grow and thus support growth of the organic chick and pullet production sectors.
Conversion, simultaneous conversion, trading livestock - UK Soil Association Organic Standards 2005 Livestock complying with requirements of simultaneous conversion may be bought or sold by a farm in simultaneous conversion. They may be traded only once before finishing, except with special Soil Association permission, and their products may not be sold as organic until all buying and selling units have completed conversion. All relevant records and documentation must be kept at the farm, and transfer documents and trading schedules must be sent with traded livestock. Soil Association Organic Standards. Paragraph 10.5.6. Soil Association standards contain rules that are not specified in EU Regulation 2092/91. The Soil Association standards state that fully organic or in-conversion livestock may be traded from a livestock unit in simultaneous conversion, being bought or sold only once unless permission is sought, but that their products may be sold as organic only after the completion of conversion periods at all the units where they have been present. In this case, Soil Association standards comply with UK Compendium of Organic Standards, Annex 1B, Paragraph 2.3.1, except the Soil Association standards add the requirement for their permission to buy or sell an animal more than once on a unit in conversion. The EU Regulation on simultaneous conversion refers only to existing animals and does not include rules on the trading of livestock on holdings in simultaneous conversion. The Soil Association standards seek to allow flexibility for the producer, regarding the purchase or sale of livestock for the holding in simultaneous conversion, without compromising the genuine organic status of livestock products. The EU Regulation specification of existing animals could be interpreted to mean only animals already present on the holding, possibly implying that the derogation may not apply to brought-in animals that are already in-conversion or organic. The Soil Association's liberal interpretation of EU Regulation should be read in the context of the detailed UK rules on conversion periods for livestock.
Crop rotation - UK Soil Association Organic Standards 2005
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Soil Association standards require that, where a crop rotation is possible, it must use a sequence where the fertility building and fertility depleting crops maintain a balance, it must include crops with various root systems, it must include a legume crop, and it must leave enough time between crops with similar pest and disease risks. Where the rotation is not to this standard and relies on inputs, the farmer must show that the rotation is improving, is reducing the inputs, and is making maximum use of legumes and green manures. At least 3 seasons must be allowed between outdoor crops of alliums, brassicas or potatoes, but successional crops in the same year are allowed. With permission, two crops of the same family may be grown in successional years followed by a 6-year break. (Soil Association Organic Standards. Paragraphs 5.1.10-5.1.13.)
Soil Association require: where a crop rotation is possible, it must follow a number of specified rules regarding the types of crop and their sequence in the rotation. EU Regulations 2092/91 requires that the soil fertility and biological activity must be maintained by a multi-annual rotation including legumes, green manures or deep-rooting plants, but the requirements for the rotation are no more detailed than that. The Soil Association standards on crop rotations are intended to ensure that the rotation will be an effective means of maintaining soil fertility and of controlling pests and diseases without the need for recourse to excessive or restricted inputs. The crop rotation specifications are intended to achieve maximum environmental benefits and minimum risks of environmental pollution or harm to biodiversity. The standards anticipate some of the most likely ways that rotations may be compromised by poor practice, and they include requirements and restrictions that aim to prevent these problems.
Cropping systems, prohibited - UK Soil Association Organic Standards 2005
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Even cropping systems that do not rely on rotations must still comply with the methods of nutrient supply, weed, pest and disease control set out in the rules for crop establishment and growth, and they must not rely on outside inputs. Continuous arable rotations are prohibited. (Soil Association Organic Standards, Sections 4.6-4.11 and Paragraphs 5.1.14 and 5.1.15.)
Soil Association standards are more detailed than the EU Regulation 2092/91. Soil Association standards prohibit any cropping systems that rely strongly on outside inputs for nutrient supply, weed, pest and disease control, and any that are based on continuous arable rotations. EU Regulation does not include these specific prohibitions. The Soil Association standards are partly intended to prohibit hydroponic crop production, while allowing flexibility for other sustainable cropping systems. Hydroponic cropping systems rely on high levels of nutrient and energy input and are therefore considered unsustainable. The prohibitions on continuous arable rotations and on systems relying on outside inputs enhance the enforceability of the positive requirements for diverse, multi-annual rotation.
Environmental recommendations, general requirements - UK Soil Association Organic Standards 2005
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Soil Association standards include a general set of recommendations regarding organic farming and the environment. Soil Association standards explain how organic farming is designed to cause minimum disruption to the natural environment, emphasise the importance of ecological diversity, and recommend management to achieve social and environmental sustainability, respect for traditional pastoral practice, and compatibility with local climate and topographical circumstances. (Soil Association Organic Standards. Subsection 3.1)
Soil Association standards are more comprehensive than EU Regulation 2092/91. EU Regulation makes an assumption that organic management yields environmental benefits, and includes certain requirements concerning environmental benefits and minimising impacts, but it does not include any dedicated set of general environmental recommendations. The general environmental recommendations are intended to encourage producers to manage organic farms for optimum social and environmental outcomes.
Fertilization, GMO derivatives - UK Soil Association Organic Standards 2005 It is prohibited to use any nutrient input for organic crop production that contains genetically modified organisms (GMO) or their derivatives. This includes manure produced by livestock fed or grazed on genetically modified material within the previous 3 months. Soil Association Organic Standards. Paragraph 3.6.7. Soil Association standards prohibits the use of manure produced by livestock fed or grazed on genetically modified material within the previous 3 months. EU Regulation 2092/91 has no clear restriction. The Soil Association standards aim to minimise the risk of contamination of organic crops with genetically modified plant material by prohibiting the use of any genetically modified crop nutrient inputs. Genetically modified organisms are prohibited from use in organic farming because of the unpredictable nature of the technology, and the risks to health and the environment.
Fertilization, substrates, heavy metals - UK Soil Association Organic Standards 2005
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Best practice recommendations are explained regarding heavy metal in soil. Maximum permitted levels of heavy metals are specified for topsoil and manure. Soil Association standards explain that soil heavy metal concentrations need to be maintained at healthy levels and that nutrient inputs should not increase concentrations above acceptable levels. This is followed by a table specifying the maximum permitted levels of heavy metals (in total dry matter) for soils and manures. These include zinc, chromium, copper, lead, nickel, cadmium, mercury and arsenic. (Soil Association Organic Standards. Paragraph 4.9.2.)
Soil Association standards contain recommendations and restrictions on heavy metal levels for topsoil and manure, whereas EU Regulation 2092/91 only mentions heavy metal levels for household wastes and phosphate fertilizers. High levels of heavy metals in soil can be toxic to crop plants, and can be taken up by crops and cause health problems to people. High levels of heavy metals in manures can lead to accumulation in the soil to which they are applied. This could lead to longer-term problems for crop yields and safety. Soil Association restrictions on heavy metal in soils and manures are intended to minimise these associated risks.
Fertilizers, origin - UK Soil Association Organic Standards 2005
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Soil Association permission is required to use non-organic animal manure or plant waste, which must be used only as a complement to the soil fertility management. Permission will be granted only if information is provided about the material and why it is needed. The types of non-organic agricultural and food by-products that may be used are subject to detailed, specified restrictions, regarding the stocking densities and husbandry systems, as well as the stacking or composting of the material. These include straw, farmyard manure, stable manure, poultry manure (from certain production systems with specified maximum stocking densities for each), straw-based pig manure, food processing by-products, plant wastes and by-products, as well as non-organic slurry, mushroom composts and worm composts from the systems specified. Dirty water from non-organic systems may be applied to in-conversion land. In addition, the Soil Association standards specify that non-organic slurry must have been aerated, pig and poultry manure must have been properly composted, stacked for 12 months, or stacked for 6 months and turned twice, and other non-organic livestock manure and plant waste must have been stacked for half the above-mentioned times or properly composted. Soil Association may request a soil or manure analysis to check the heavy metal levels. (Soil Association Organic Standards. Paragraphs 4.7.5-4.7.7 and 4.7.17.)
Soil Association standards specify that only certain types of manure and plant wastes from non-organic production or processing systems may be permitted to complement soil fertility management. EU Regulation 2092/91 specifies "need recognised by the inspection body". The Soil Association standards aim to avoid providing an organic farming demand for manure products of livestock systems where the animal welfare is compromised by lack of bedding, or by excessive stocking densities or movement restrictions. Soil Association standards try to avoid potential organic consumer health problems by requiring composting or stacking time for the degradation of residues of prohibited inputs or veterinary medicines before application of non-organic manure and plant wastes to organic crops. Consumer health and long-term soil fertility concerns are the reasons why analysis may be required for heavy metal levels.
Fertilizers, substrates, animal by-products - UK Soil Association Organic Standards 2005
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With prior Soil Association permission, a number of soil nutrient supplements are permitted for use to treat severe deficiencies. Among these, animal by-products are subject to particular restrictions. Soil Association standards permit the use of meat, blood, bone, hoof and horn meals, with prior permission, only in compost for use in plant propagation and not on units where there are cattle or sheep. Wool shoddy may be used, with prior permission, only if not in direct contact with the crop. Fish meals and fish emulsions may be used, with prior permission, if they do not contain prohibited substances and only in protected cropping, propagating composts or perennial crops. (Soil Association Organic Standards. Paragraph 4.8.10.)
Soil Association standards restrict the use of animal by products. EU Regulation 2092/91 generally permits animal by-products (such as meat, blood, bone, hoof and horn meals, wool shoddy, fish products) for use where the need is recognised by the inspection body. Soil Association standards are particularly cautious regarding the use of animal by-products as soil nutrient supplements partly due to the risk of contamination of crops with agents or vectors of infectious disease, such as BSE infected prions on pasture. "Intense exploitation of fish stocks to produce fish meal has major implications for the integrity of marine ecosystems." (Little and Edwards, 2003). Regular use of fish products for crop nutrition would not be compatible with organic ecological principles. Reference: Little, D.C. and Edwards, P. (2003) Integrated livestock - fish farming systems. URL: >
Fertilizers, substrates, guano - UK Soil Association Organic Standards 2005 It is prohibited to fertilize the soil with fresh blood, guano, Chilean nitrate, urea, or slaked lime or quicklime. Soil Association Organic Standards. Paragraphs 4.8.12. Soil Association standards have further restrictions than EU Regulation 2092/91, where for example guano is permitted as fertiliser where the need is recognised by the inspection body. It is prohibited by the Soil Association standards. Guano extraction is unsustainable on a large scale because of habitat damage and limited reserves. Historically, guano was used as a major nitrate source, but nitrogen fixed from the atmosphere should be the main source of nitrate in organic farming.
Fertilizers, substrates, maerl - UK Soil Association Organic Standards 2005 Soil Association permission is required to use seaweed sources for soil nutrient supplementation, but maerl from Lithothamnium corallioides, Lithothamnium glaciale or Phymatolithon calcareum are prohibited. Soil Association Organic Standards. Paragraph 4.8.5. Soil Association standards prohibit the use of maerl from Lithothamnium corallioides, Lithothamnium glaciale or Phymatolithon calcareum. EU Regulation 2092/91 does not include this prohibition, but it allows seaweed products, where the need is recognised by the inspection body, and maerl with no restriction. The seaweed species named as prohibited inputs in the Soil Association standards are endangered species, and the maerl extraction contributes to the threat of their extinction.
Flock size, poultry - UK Soil Association Organic Standards 2005
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There are recommended maximum flock sizes for poultry, and Soil Association permission is required to keep larger houses. The Soil Association standards' recommended maximum poultry flock sizes are for a maximum of 500 chickens, ducks, or guinea fowl, or 250 turkeys or geese. Permission is required for larger units, and will depend on good health and welfare levels, good environmental conditions, and sufficient available range with vegetation within suitable distances of the housing. Beyond this, Soil Standards standards restrict the maximum poultry flock size, in any case, to 2,000 birds for laying chickens, and to 1000 birds for other classes of poultry. (Soil Association Organic Standards. Paragraphs 20.7.10-20.7.13.)
EU Regulation 2092/91 has higher maximum flock sizes of between 2,500 for turkeys and geese, and 5,200 for guinea fowl, and it has no smaller recommended flock sizes. The two sets of organic standards differ only in the maximum individual poultry flock (house) size, not the size of the production unit. The Soil Association standards' smaller, recommended and maximum flock sizes for poultry are to help ensure adequate health and welfare. Restricting flock sizes will limit the size of any disease or pest infestation, and will enable closer monitoring of birds' condition, Smaller flock sizes are closer to the maximum group sizes found among wild poultry, and therefore contribute to reducing stress that may be caused by social alienation among the birds.
Free range conditions, area, cattle - UK Soil Association Organic Standards 2005 Cattle must be allowed fresh forage throughout the grazing season with a specified minimum total grazing area. Buffer feeding of grazing cattle is permitted. Soil Association standards state that cattle must be allowed fresh forage throughout the grazing season with a minimum total grazing area of 0.27 hectares per cow per season and that buffer feeding is permitted. Soil Association Organic Standards Paragraphs 11.3.3 and 11.3.4. Soil Association standards are more specific than the EU Regulation 2092/91 with regards to minimum grazing areas for cattle. EU Regulation only states that herbivores must have access to pasture whenever conditions allow and that outdoor pasture must be of sufficiently low stocking density to prevent poaching and overgrazing without giving a minimum figure for the grazing area per cow/season. The Soil Association sets a minimum grazing area for cows, taking account of UK organic grassland productivity, to help ensure the following: that soil condition and grassland habitats are conserved; that the cattle have an adequate ranging area to optimise their health and welfare; that an adequate proportion of their forage during the grazing season is grazed, not conserved; and that the risk of water pollution is minimised.
Free range conditions, grazing rotation, pigs - UK Soil Associaition Organic Standards 2005
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Soil Association standards recommend that pigs should be kept in rotational grazing systems, moved at least every 6 months, and not returned to the same land more than once in 4 years. There is a table, detailing the number of different age/size/group types of pig that will produce 170 kg nitrogen per year, together with a worked example of a 100-hectare farm. (Soil Association Organic Standards. Paragraphs 13.3.3, 13.3.4 and 13.3.5.)
Soil Association contain recommendations that pigs should be kept in rotational grazing systems, and further related guidance and recommendations, that are not in EU Regulation 2092/91. EU Regulation does not include these recommendations and guidance items. Long intervals in the grazing rotation ofpigs helps to reduce the infectivity of pasture with parasitic worms. Soil Association standards aim to encourage best practice among organic pig producers for soil management and animal health and welfare by including this recommendation and guidance on rotational grazing systems, which are not actually required in the standards.
Free range conditions, rest periods, poultry - UK Soil Association Organic Standards 2005 Poultry runs must be left empty between batches for specified minimum periods. For laying poultry, the Soil Association standards minimum rest period is 9 months, and it is 2 months per year plus 1 year in every 3 years for table poultry. Soil Association Organic Standards, Paragraphs 20.8.4-20.8.6. Soil Association standards contain further restrictions than the UK Compendium, which sets national rules in accordance with the EU Regulation 2092/91 requirements. UK Compendium, Annex 1B, Paragraph 8.4.6 complies with the requirements of EU Regulation by specifying minimum rest periods for runs accommodating the different classes of poultry in UK. Compared to the UK Compendium, Soil Association standards specify significantly longer minimum rest periods for poultry runs between batches. Soil Association standards for minimum rest periods in poultry runs aim to break the life cycle of parasitic worms. The secondary aim is to give time for the built-up fertility of the land to be used.
GMO-free declaration, non-organic inputs - UK Soil Association Organic Standards 2005
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Producers must obtain a signed declaration form from suppliers of non-organic inputs to verify that these do not contain any GMO derivatives. Soil Association may require further proof in the form of genetic analysis, paid for by the producer. Mixed or compound concentrate feeds must be certified by an organic certification body, even if they contain only non-organic ingredients, to prove they are non-GMO. (Soil Association Organic Standards. Paragraph 3.6.5.)
Soil Association Standards require that suppliers of non-organic inputs to organic producers or processors must sign a declaration to state that these inputs contain no GMOs or their derivatives. Although EU Regulation 2092/91 prohibits the use of GMO derived inputs, there is no requirement for this supplier declaration. Soil Association standards are intended to ensure verifiable compliance with requirements to use only non-GMO materials. Genetic modification is an unproven technology and may have unpredictable effects.
Honey, prohibited pasteurisation - UK Soil Association Organic Standards 2005 It is prohibited to pasteurise honey. Honey liquification temperatures must be below 60°C, and held for less than 6 hours. Soil Association Organic Standards, Paragraph 41.2.10. Soil Association standards prohibit the pasteurisation of honey and restrict the liquification temperature and time. EU Regulation 2092/91 does not include this prohibition or restriction. The heat involved in pasteurisation has adverse effects on honey quality, including loss of volatile compounds, accumulation of hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF) and reduction of enzyme activity.
Horses and other equines - UK Soil Association Organic Standards 2005
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Equine animals cannot be certified organic under UK Soil Association Standards. Soil Association standards explain that, although equines cannot be certified as organic within these standards, there are a set of recommendations and requirements for their management when they are kept on organic land. It is recommended that equines are included with other livestock in a clean grazing rotation and to feed them organic or approved feed. There are also further requirements if more than five equines are kept, relating to manure management, avermectin treatment, GMO feeds, health planning and pasture management planning. Equine manure management must be the same as for other non-organic manure. (Soil Association Organic Standards. Subsection 3.8.)
Soil Association standards do not allow certification of equines, unlike EU Regulation. EU Regulation allows equine animals to be certified organic, and include stocking rate figures for manure management when keeping equines on organic land. Equines are very rarely used for any type of production activity on UK farms, so standards to certify them or their products as organic would be redundant. They would probably also be considered offensive to most UK consumers. In this context, some rules are useful to ensure that their presence on organic farms does not compromise the ecological or organic integrity of the land, crops or other livestock.
Livestock housing, area, poultry - UK Soil Association Organic Standards 2005 Soil Association standards have a set of maximum poultry housing densities, minimum space for perching per bird, and maximum number of birds per nest for laying chickens. Soil Association Organic Standards. Paragraph 20.7.3. Soil Association standards contain further restrictions than the EU Regulation 2092/91. Soil Association standards specify a maximum of 6 laying hens for each nesting box, while the EU Regulation figure is 8. Soil Association standards specify separate maximum housing stocking rates for turkeys and geese of 2 birds per sq. metre in fixed housing and 3 birds per sq. metre in mobile housing, but EU Regulations apply the same figure for all classes of poultry, i.e. 10 birds per sq. metre (fixed) and 16 birds per sq. metre (mobile), which are also the maximum densities for all other classes of poultry in the Soil Association standards. The Soil Association standards' lower maximum number of laying hens per nesting box is intended to ensure an adequate level of welfare for each bird by improving access to nesting boxes. The specific housing density requirements for turkeys and geese in Soil Association standards take account of the larger size of these birds. Although both sets of standards include the same maximum weight of birds per sq. metre of housing area, the specific maximum housing densities for turkeys and geese in Soil Association standards help to ensure adequate health and welfare conditions for these larger birds.
Livestock housing, bedding material - UK Soil Association Organic Standards 2005 Livestock bedding areas without bedding material or the use of peat as bedding are not permitted. Soil Association Organic Standards. Paragraph 10.12.11. Soil Association standards forbid the use of peat as bedding. EU Regulation 2092/91 allows the use of "suitable bedding materials". The extraction of peat causes damage to environmentally valuable semi-natural habitats.
Livestock housing, general requirements, poultry - UK Soil Associaition Organic Standards 2005 In poultry houses of more than 100 birds, social grouping must be encouraged by the arrangement of feeders and drinkers, and by the use of partitions. Soil Association Organic Standards. Paragraph 20.7.2. Soil Association standards contain a requirement not included in EU Regulation 2092/91. Soil Association standards require the use of partitions and the arrangement of feeders and drinkers to encourage small social groups to be formed among birds in a large poultry house. EU Regulation does not include this requirement. Natural populations of poultry tend to form smaller social groups than exist in large poultry houses, so the provision of partitions, etc. reduces the incidence welfare problems relating to social alienation among birds in a large house.
Livestock housing, general requirements, poultry - UK Soil Associaition Organic Standards 2005
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Soil Association poultry housing standards include minimum requirements for solid, unslatted and bedded floor areas, along with minimum areas of pop holes, drinking and feeding space, and numbers of drinkers per flock size. There are also certain stipulations regarding the types and maintenance of poultry bedding. (Soil Association Organic Standards. Paragraphs 20.7.4-20.7.7.)
Soil Association standards are more comprehensive than EU Regulation 2092/91. The Soil Association standards minimum requirements for solid, unslatted and bedded floor areas are set at 50%, but EU Regulation requires a minimum one third of floor area of these descriptions. Soil Association standards require minimum space per bird for various types of drinker and feeder, but the EU Regulation does not include such requirements. The Soil Association standards require the bedding to be topped up regularly, and kept dry and friable, whereas EU Regulation requires enough of the floor space to be available for removal of bird droppings. Soil Association standards are intended to ensure an adequate level of health and welfare for the birds by requiring a larger proportion of the housing floor area to be unslatted and bedded, with minimum feeding and drinking spaces per bird. The requirement for topping up bedding rather than for removing droppings reveals a difference of emphasis between the two sets of standards, in which the Soil Association focuses more on providing sufficient resources for the birds to enable their normal behaviours.
Livestock housing, rearing, pigs - UK Soil Association Organic Standards 2005 Soil Association standards include a number of specific requirements and conditions regarding the servicing, farrowing and weaning of pigs. Pig service pens have to be of at least 10.5 sq. metres per head. It is recommended to settle sows into farrowing accommodation well in advance of farrowing, to use farrowing arcs of area approx. 2.5m x 2m, and to use straw bedding. It is prohibited to use farrowing crates and to deny food or water to drying off sows. Soil Association Organic Standards. Paragraphs 13.6.2 and 13.6.4. Soil Association standards are more specific than the EU Regulation 2092/91 to ensure adequate welfare for organic pigs. EU Regulation requires compliance with directive 91/630/EEC, which permits the use of farrowing crates, which is prohibited by SA standards. Farrowing crates are prohibited because they impose confinement that restricts movement and prevents natural behaviour tendencies.
Livestock housing, rest periods - UK Soil Association Organic Standards 2005 Between batches of poultry, houses must be cleaned and disinfected, and must be left empty for long enough to break the life cycle of pests. Soil Association Organic Standards, Paragraph 20.7.6. Soil Association standards are more precise than EU Regulation 2092/91. Soil Association standards specify that the period that poultry houses are left empty between batches must be long enough to break the life cycle of pests. Although EU Regulation requires that poultry houses must be left empty, cleaned and disinfected between batches, it includes no time specification for the period that the houses must be left empty. Leaving the poultry houses empty for long enough to break the lifecycle of pests will mean that there are no established populations of pests to infest the following batch of poultry. This will reduce health and welfare problems for successive batches of poultry.
Livestock housing, zero grazing - UK Soil Association 2005 Zero grazing systems are not permitted for cattle. (Zero grazing means feeding freshly cut forage to housed animals). Soil Association Organic Standards. Paragraph 11.3.5. Soil Association standards are more precise than EU Regulation 2092/91. Soil Association Standards prohibit zero grazing for cattle. Zero grazing is not specifically prohibited in the EU Regulation, but it states, "Herbivores must have access to pasturage whenever conditions allow." The Soil Association rule is a clear prohibition while the EU Regulation is not. The Soil Association rule aims to be clear and unambiguous in prohibiting zero grazing systems. Although the EU Regulation may imply such a prohibition, it could be open to other interpretations in certain situations. The prohibition of zero grazing systems encourages producers to maximise cattle's access to pasture.
Livestock management plan - UK Soil Association Organic Standards 2005 Livestock producers are required to implement a livestock management plan to help meet the Standards in a number of important areas. Soil Association standards require livestock producers to develop, agree with the Soil Association, and then implement and monitor a livestock management plan to help meet the Standards in a number of important areas, including the following: sourcing and converting livestock; health and welfare; feeding and grazing, including the stocking density and grazing rotation; housing; handling and transporting; and slaughter. The livestock management plan must be reviewed and updated regularly. Where relevant, the livestock management plan should be integrated with the cropping plan. Soil Association Organic Standards. Paragraphs 10.3.1 and 10.3.2. Soil Association standards include specifications not made in the EU Regulation 2092/91. EU Regulation 2092/91 mentions the requirement for a livestock management plan in Annex IIIA.2, Paragraph 1, but includes no further relevant guidance or requirements. Soil Association standards provide more detail and guidance to make the livestock management plan a more useful farm-planning tool for producers and a better means to help the Soil Association inspectors to ensure compliance.
Livestock management, physical operations/mutilations - UK Soil Association Organic Standards 2005
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Soil Association standards include a number of detailed requirements and restrictions relating to operations involving physical mutilation of different classes of livestock. Soil Association standards allow the disbudding or castration of calves, and the tail docking or castration of sheep and goats, on condition that these practices are justified for welfare reasons. Soil Association standards require such operations to be detailed in the animal health plan, and in this latter requirement, they comply with UK Compendium of Organic Standards, Paragraph 6.1.2. Disbudding of calves is permitted only up to 3 months old and castration of calves only to 2 months. Use of a rubber ring for the castration of calves, and for the castration or tail docking of sheep and goats, is permitted without anaesthetic only within the first week of life, after which, anaesthetic is required. For tail docking or castration of sheep and goats, the burdizzo method is permitted up to 6 weeks old, and use of a hot iron is permitted between 3 and 6 weeks old. Castration of pigs is permitted only with Soil Association permission in exceptional circumstances, and castrated pigs may not be sold as organic. Deer antlers may be removed only with Soil Association permission, which will only be given on grounds of safety or welfare, and in any case, not when the antlers are in velvet. No other mutilating operations are permitted in Soil Association standards. (Soil Association Organic Standards. Paragraphs 11.5.12 - 11.5.15, 12.2.1, 12.2.2, 13.2.2, 14.3.2 and 20.5.4.)
Soil Association standards contain detailed rules that EU Regulation 2092/91 explicitly permits inspection bodies to set. The Soil Association rules on livestock mutilating operations are designed to minimise animal welfare problems in the context of the culture and conditions in which livestock are kept in the UK. The aim is to allow only those types of mutilation that are widely practised in UK agriculture and only if they can be carried out without excessive pain and can be justified on the grounds of animal welfare. The rules are detailed for each class of livestock by the Soil Association standards, which is enabled by the discretion permitted for inspection bodies within the EU Regulation.
Livestock management, tethering - UK Soil Association Organic Standards 2005 Livestock must neither be housed permanently nor tethered for prolonged periods. Flooring in livestock houses must not have more than 50% slatted area. Permission is required for the tethering of animals for special circumstances such as for shows, welfare, safety or for short periods. Soil Association Organic Standards. Paragraphs 10.12.4 and 10.12.5. Soil Association standards omit certain derogations permitted within EU Regulation. EU Regulation allows 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. EU Regulation has a further derogation that allows cattle in small holdings, where they cannot be kept in groups appropriate to their behaviour requirements, to be tethered with access to open areas only twice per week. Soil Association standards do not allow any prolonged tethering, and require their permission to be sought even for tethering for short periods or for welfare or safety purposes. In omitting the derogation for tethering in older buildings, Soil Association standards comply with the UK Compendium of Organic Standards, Annex 1B, Paragraph 6.1.5, but the UK Compendium, Annex 1B, Paragraph 6.1.6 includes the derogation for smallholdings, which Soil Association standards do not. Cattle are rarely kept tethered in UK smallholdings, and buildings have not been designed for tethering, so there is no need for the Soil Association to provide similar derogations to the EU Regulation. However, some flexibility is provided requiring permission for tethering in certain circumstances.
Meat, tenderising methods - UK Soil Association Organic Standards 2005 The use of tenderising substances on live animals is prohibited. Electrical tenderisation of meat may be used with Soil Association permission. Soil Association Organic Standards. Paragraphs 42.8.7 and 42.10.6. Soil Association standards are more detailed than EU Regulation 2092/91. Soil Association standards prohibit the use of tenderising substances on live animals, but they allow the use of electrical tenderisation of meat, with their permission. EU Regulation does not refer to procedures for the tenderisation of meat. Introduction of tenderising enzymes into the vascular systems of animals before slaughter is an invasive technique with potential welfare problems.
Origin of livestock, replacements - UK Soil Association Organic Standards 2005 Replacement livestock should be bred on the farm, but this is impractical and suitable organic livestock are are unavailable to buy, a limited proportion of non-organic, nulliparous, breeding female animals may be bought-in. Thius requires Soil Association permission and is only allowed at a rate of 10% of existing herd/flock size per year. Soil Association Organic Standards. Paragraph 10.6.8. UK Soil Association Standards contain further restrictions on replacement stock compared to EU Regulations. EU Regulation 2092/91 allows 20% per year of the existing number of pigs, sheep and goats to be brought in as adult, non-organic livestock for conversion, where organic animals are unavailable, but only 10% for other livestock classes. Soil Association standards set a 10% per year limit for all classes of livestock. The products of such bought-in livestock are subject to the Soil Association rules for conversion, not those in EU Regulation 2.2.1. (See Soil Association Difference re. EU Regulation, Paragraph 2.2.1.) In Soil Association standards the further regulation of the livestock replacement purchases of non-organic pigs, sheep and goats helps to maintain herd or flock biosecurity and so benefits animal health. These rules on the organic status of the products of bought-in livestock aim to reduce consumer health risks from residues of prohibited inputs.
Peat - UK Soil Association Organic Standards 2005 Among a number of other prohibited soil inputs, it is prohibited to use peat as a soil conditioner. Soil Association Organic Standards. Paragraph 4.7.10. Soil Association standards have further restrictions than EU Regulation 2092/91 regarding the use of peat as a soil conditioner. Effectively, it may be used only in propogating media. EU Regulation permits peat for use in horticulture (market gardening, floriculture, arboriculture, nursery). Soil Association standard's prohibition on the use of peat as a soil conditioner is intended to reduce the damage to peat bogs. These are important habitats for wildlife, supporting many bird, invertebrate and plant species, some of which depend on peat bogs for their survival. Peat extraction for horticulture has been the main cause of the damage to British peat bogs in the past 50 years. Only 6% of British peat bogs remain undamaged. This damage could be repeated in other countries if its widespread use continues.
Plant protection, crop rotation - UK Soil Association standards 2005 It is permitted to grow crops without the use of a multi-annual rotation in such cropping systems as protected cropping, permanent pasture, perennial crops and wild harvesting, but the cropping system must not rely on external inputs nor involve continuous arable crops. Soil Association Organic Standards. Paragraph 5.1.14 and 5.1.15. Soil Association standards contain further detail to the EU Regulation 2092/91. Soil Association standards set out the circumstances in which it is permitted to practice cropping without a multi-annual rotation. EU Regulation requires a multi-annual rotation for crop production to maintain soil fertility and to control weeds, pests and diseases, but it does not explain clearly those cropping systems that would not require such a rotation. The Soil Association standards are intended to place clear and unambiguous requirements on the producer regarding when it is appropriate to make use of crop rotations and when it is not. For example, it could be harmful to biodiversity and could cause pollution to initiate a cropping rotation on land that had been in permanent pasture.
Principles of organic agriculture - UK Soil Association Organic Standards 2005
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The principles of organic farming are introduced and explained. Soil Association standards include a subsection dedicated to the principles of organic production. Here, it is explained that the organic approach applies to the whole system of farming and food production, and the text includes a comprehensive set of principles, which are divided into the four categories of Agricultural, Environmental, Food Processing and Social. Soil Association standards also include a subsection dedicated to further explanation of the principles of organic food processing. Here, they explain that organic foods are wholesome, authentic, unadulterated, and of high quality. These terms are defined, and additional principles are explained, such as environmental conservation at the processing site and environmental responsibility regarding packaging and transport. (Soil Association Organic Standards. Subsection 1.2.)
Soil Association standards contain sets of principles not included in EU Regulation 2092/91. EU Regulation includes some fragmented explanations of principles of organic farming and food production but not in a dedicated section and not so clear and complete. Organic principles show the values involved and the reasons why the standards have been written. This is to communicate to producers and processors what should be the basic aims of their involvement with organic food and farming. The categorisation of the principles of production show that they are based on practical considerations.
Slaughter, stunning, general requirements - UK Soil Association Organic Standards 2005
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It is prohibited to slaughter animals without pre-stunning. There are a series of detailed rules to specify how animals are stunned and killed. Equipment must have an effective cleaning and maintenance schedule. Staff must be suitably trained and qualified. There must be adequate back-up equipment. Tenderising substances must not be used on live animals. Animals must be effectively restrained without causing injury or distress, and only immediately before stunning or killing. Animals, except poultry, must be effectively stunned before shackling and hoisting. The stunning process must render the animal unconscious without distress and maintain unconsciousness until the animal is dead. There are a series of detailed specifications for the various methods of stunning that are permitted for each different class of livestock, together with the minimum stun-to-bleed times in each case. (Soil Association Organic Standards. Subsection 42.8.)
Soil Association standards are more detailled than EU Regulation 2092/91. Soil Association standards prohibit the slaughter of animals without pre-stunning. There are detailed maximum times between stunning and bleeding of animals. EU Regulation states only that the slaughtering process must be conducted so that the stress to the animals is reduced to a minimum. Soil Association standards are intended to ensure that the animal welfare problems associated with slaughtering processes are minimised. They specify a set of required conditions, along with stunning and killing methods available in UK, that should involve the least risk of distress for the animals.
Slaughter, stunning, methods - UK Soil Association Organic Standards 2005
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There are a number of permitted methods of stunning, killing and slaughtering specified for different classes of livestock. Only pigs may be stunned using carbon dioxide, and Soil Association permission is required for this. The operation of the carbon dioxide stunning system is subject to a number of specified conditions. The operation of the carbon dioxide system must be constantly monitored by a specifically trained, licensed slaughterman, and pigs must be killed by the gas and bled as soon as possible. The carbon dioxide system must include back-up equipment for use in case of failure. (Soil Association Organic Standards. Paragraphs 42.8.8-42.8.15 and 42.9.12-42.9.14.)
Soil Association Standards are more specific than the EU Regulation 2092/91. Soil Association standards require that carbon dioxide must not be used to stun any animal apart from pigs, and permission must be gained for its use with pigs. EU Regulation does not contain any prohibition or other reference to the use of carbon dioxide for stunning. Carbon dioxide stunning may cause distress to animals in the stunning process. The stunning is not instant and may cause respiratory distress. Susceptibility to distress is affected by pig breed and other variables, so the Soil Association would require to know all the relevant details to decide on any permission for use of carbon dioxide in pig slaughter.
Soil management, steam sterilisation and pasteurisation - UK Soil Association Organic Standards 2005 Steam sterilisation or pasteurisation of soils are not permitted for weed control; along with Azadirachtin (from neem) and lime sulphur, they may be used with prior permission only in protected cropping structures and only as a single response to a particular pest problem. Soil Association Organic Standards. Paragraphs 4.10.5 and 4.11.10. Soil Association standards have further restrictions to the EU Regulation 2092/91. Soil Association standards restrict the use of steam sterilisation or pasteurisation of soils. These methods are not permitted for weed control; with prior permission, they may be used only in protected cropping structures and only as a single response to a particular pest problem. EU Regulation does not refer to these practices. Steam sterilisation and pasteurisation are energy intensive methods, which impair soil biodiversity and are generally incompatible with organic soil management principles. As the methods require only the use of water and energy, their absence from the EU Regulation could be interpreted as allowing unrestricted use of the methods for pest and disease control.
Veterinary prophylactic treatment, iron injection, pigs - UK Soil Association Organic Standards 2005 As well as a number of operations prohibited on welfare grounds (and detailed in another difference item), prophylactic iron injections of pigs are prohibited. Soil Association Organic Standards. Paragraph 13.2.2. Soil Association standards prohibit the prophylactic injection of iron for pigs. This practice is not prohibited under EU Regulation 2092/91. Prophylactic iron injections may cause health problems, and iron sources from the maternal milk and/or feed ration should be sufficient. Any symptoms of iron deficiency should be looked for in animal health monitoring.
Veterinary treatment, parasite control - UK Soil Association Organic Standards 2005 Veterinary treatments to control parasites, which involve the use of organo-phosphorus or organo-chlorine compounds, are not permitted unless required by law. If so required, any animals treated cannot be used for organic meat, and their milk cannot be sold as organic until the completion of a full conversion period. Soil Association Organic Standards. Paragraphs 10.10.27 and 10.10.28. Soil Association Standards include a prohibition that is not part of the EU Regulation 2092/91. The EU Regulation places no specific prohibition on organo-phosphorus or organo-chlorine compounds for veterinary treatment. Soil Association standards prohibit these compounds. Soil Association standards comply with UK Compendium of Organic Standards, Annex 1B, Paragraph 5.5 in prohibiting Organo-phosphorus compound, but UK Compendium does not include the prohibition on organo-chlorine compounds. Organophosphate chemicals have been suspected of involvement in a number of degenerative nervous diseases in livestock, producers and consumers. Organo-chlorine chemicals have been implicated in many environmental and public health problems. A specific prohibition is considered necessary on organic status for the products of animals exposed to these chemicals to ensure that organic products will not pose any public health or environmental risk.