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Significant progress for organic farming in Europe

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We are delighted to share the news that the European Parliament’s Agriculture Committee voted in a new organic regulation last week, after many years of negotiation.

Room for improvement

Despite coming close to being abandoned on a number of occasions due to lobbying from some organic producers, the new regulation has now been announced. It is a clear improvement from the current situation as only very few Member States have rules at a national level and there is a lot of inconsistency, especially regarding animal welfare.

We worked hard to ensure that animal welfare rules were not weakened within the regulation. Although the new regulation has much room for improvement in terms of animal welfare, it is a real step forward. We worked closely with Rapporteur Martin Hausling to ensure standards were maintained and even improved, and we are very proud to see our work has paid off.

New Organic rules

The regulation sets out a number of rules for organic farming. Some highlights include:

  • Rules for organic rabbit and deer production were introduced – these are new species to be included.
  • The use of cages, boxes and flat decks are not permitted for any species.
  • Tail-docking for pigs and teeth clipping are prohibited.
  • Tail-docking for sheep, dehorning and disbudding are allowed only exceptionally, and on a case-by-case basis.
  • For shrimp, all techniques leading to eyestalk ablation, including ligation, are clearly prohibited.
  • There are rules for organic fish farming.
  • Additional provisions improving animal welfare for pigs on housing conditions have also been added.
  • If a national law goes above and beyond the rules in the organic farming regulation, the national law will apply.

Encouraging progress

The organic regulation is an encouraging sign of progress and we believe that it moves organic farming in Europe to abide by even higher animal welfare standards than before. Next comes a vote in the Plenary and in the Agriculture Council in Spring 2018. The new rules will apply from January 2021 and we will, as ever, continue to push for the highest standards of welfare for farmed animals across Europe and worldwide, and work to bring an end to all cruel practices that are still allowed.