Organic Rules and Certification

All differences in one table by Subjects

  • Subject Areas
    • Specific animal 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, 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.
Aquaculture, fish production - FR Regulation 2005
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There are standards for organic production of farmed fish.
French regulation includes standards for organic production of farmed fish. There are no such standards in the EU Regulation 2092/91. French fish farmers asked for organic standards.
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.
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.
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, access to water - DE Bioland 2005
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Water fowl have to have access at all times to running streams, ponds or lakes (only if hygienic conditions and water protection acts permit it) or to a durable water surface that is replaced regularly by fresh water. (Bioland production standards, 4.2.5. Poultry, 4.2.5.3 Poultry for fattening, 4.2.5.3.4 Water surfaces)
The BIOLAND standard is simliar to the EU Regulation 2092/91, however according to EU Regulation this requirement can be suspended with a derogation until 2010. To enable the animals to execute their natural behaviour.
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.
Livestock housing, area, poultry - CH Bio Suisse Standards 2005 For fattening poultry not more than 2000 animals and for laying hens not more then 600 may be reared in one stable (towards end of fattening period max 500 poultry,for turkey max. 250 animals/stable, for geese and ducks max. 250 animals /stable). The number of animals per stable, the stocking density in-house, is lower in the Bio Suisse regulation compared to the EU Regulation 2092/91. EU defines the max number of animals per stable as 4800 poultry, 3000 laying hens, 5200 guinea fowl, etc. From an ethological point of view a lower number of animals per square meter and a lower maximum number of animals per stable is considered as more animal-friendly.
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, 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 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, general requirement, ostriches - FR Regulation 2000
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Standards for organic rearing of ostriches exist in the French governmental regulation.
French regulation includes standards for organic ostrich rearing. There are no such standards in the EU Regulation 2092/91. French ostrich breeders asked for organic standards.
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.
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.
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.
US NOP 2002: Special other animal standards There are no provisions for other animal standards - others than in EC Regulation. No differences
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.