Commission told to extend 5% non-organic feed protein rule

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

© istock/Vladimir Cetinski
© istock/Vladimir Cetinski

Related tags European union Uk

UK farming organizations are urging the EU Commission to extend two derogations for organic pigs and poultry that are due to expire at the end of this year.

The UK’s National Pig Association (NPA) and the UK National Farmers’ Union (NFU) said the removal of the 5% non-organic protein allowance could have severe consequences for the organic monogastric sector.

Due to restricted supplies, organic farmers are currently allowed to feed their pig and poultry up to 5% non-organic protein. Without Commission intervention, a 100% organic diet will be required from January 2018.

The NPA and the NFU said beyond the challenges in being able to source the right nutrition, the move could have major welfare implications for young animals.

Minette Batters, NFU deputy president, said it was vital for the organic poultry sector that an extension to these derogations is granted as soon as possible. Producers are planning now for 2018 and currently have no certainty whether these derogations will be in place, she said.

“Organic producers would like nothing more than to use 100% organic feed but they don’t want to do this at the expense of their animals’ health and welfare, which is why an extension is so important.

“The NFU and NPA, along with industry experts, have met with [UK] government officials to stress these concerns and ensure the voice of the organic pig and poultry sector is heard. We will continue to push this agenda with MEPs and the Commission until the situation is resolved.

“The organic poultry sector continues to grow and it would be extremely disappointing to see these concerns go unaddressed.”

Other UK organizations such UK organic certifying body, Organic Farmers & Growers (OF&G) and the British Poultry Council, which represents nearly 90% of the UK poultry meat sector, backed the call.

The organic feed derogations are on the agenda at the next EU Committee on Organic Production (COP) meeting, which takes place on Wednesday next, September 27.

Supply challenges for UK organic poultry producers

We reported previously on how the delisting of the certification body supervising organic production in Ukraine had left UK organic poultry producers with sourcing headaches.

All of the sunflower meal, and a high percentage of the wheat and maize used by the organic poultry industry in the UK used to come from that country. Due to contaminant challenges leading to supply constraints in Ukraine, a flow of organic sunflower cake and other raw materials from that market can no longer be relied on for UK organic poultry production.

Paul Poornan, CEO of UK specialty poultry feed compounder, Humphrey Feeds, told this publication last October that while efforts were underway to recertify organic production in Ukraine, the supply of sunflower meal from Ukraine had, more or less, dried up.

It is said some UK organic poultry feed compounders are compensating for the lack of sunflower expeller, which critically contains methionine, by including additional amounts of soy, imported from China, in the feed formulations for layers and broilers. 

“But too much soy can create an unbalance in terms of amino acid levels in the birds’ diets,”​ said Poornan.

UK organic feed manufacturers, he added, are working hard to find new raw material sources from places like Romania and other parts of Eastern Europe. “We are increasingly getting raw materials like wheat in 3,000 ton parcels from different regions​,” said Poornan.

Meanwhile, Steve Jacobs, business development officer at OF&G, speaking to this publication last October, acknowledged the raw material sourcing challenges UK organic poultry producers have. He said, though, the UK organic sector has very good standing globally. “We need to play to our strengths. We need to develop supply and develop the market.”

OF&G, he said, is in continuous talks with the UK department for environment, food and rural affairs, DEFRA, on ensuring the post EU referendum landscape takes account of the benefits of organic, and conventional, food production to the UK economy. “Farm businesses have not being given sufficient value in the negotiations up until now. We want more support. We are in regular contact with DEFRA to make sure the set of organic standards in the UK post-Brexit have equivalence with those in the EU and the US,”​ said Jacobs.

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