Feed regulations reprieve for organic poultry

The NFU has welcomed the news that the EU is delaying a decision on its controversial plans to introduce stringent changes to feed regulations in organic poultry production from 1 January, and urged producers to carry on as normal.

The European Commission is committed to ending the derogation for non-organic poultry feed and implement a 100% organic diet. It also wants to force producers to grow a large proportion of feed on their own holding or region, amounting to 40% of feed for monogastric animals and 70% of herbivore feed ingredients. These changes were due to take effect on 1 January, however the EU has delayed the introduction to an unspecified ‘later date’.

The NFU has lobbied vigorously against the changes, maintaining they would have a seriously detrimental effect on the organic poultry industry. It has previously said that uncertainties over the EU directives post-2013 was leaving producers on a knife edge.

Martin Humphrey, NFU poultry board member and organic feed compounder, said: “I am delighted that the EU has listened to the NFU and those in the poultry sector who have made representations to the EU Commission and Defra on the important matter of organic diets. While we await confirmation on the proposed text for the legislation, it looks clear that the EU will not implement 100% organic diets and will allow producers to continue with the current 95% diets for a limited amount of time.  

“With 95% diets, producers are able to ensure that the bird’s nutrition is satisfied and that their welfare is not compromised, whereas with 100% diets, bird welfare is challenged. We now need to turn our attention towards guiding the EU towards implementing a sustainable course for organic poultry, which pragmatically addresses bird-feeding requirements.”

Ruth Mason, NFU food chain advisor told the Meat Trades Journal that because the changes have already been legislated,  it is likely they will be introduced in the next two or three years. However as the Commission is now willing to work with the industry, the derogation may be reduced incrementally over a period of time.

She said: "The main problem is that the organic [feed] products aren't available at the moment and there is currently no alternative, although research is underway."

In 2010, the organic sector made up 2.4% of the total poultry industry. Having peaked in 2007, the market has seen a steep decline, particularly over the last two years. Defra statistics released in August  showed that numbers fell 2% in 2010, to 3.9m birds, following a 9% decrease the previous year.


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