The NFU, National Pig Association (NPA) and industry stakeholders are pressing the European Commission to extend two derogations for organic pig and poultry that are set to end on December 31st 2017.

Due to tight availability of organic protein feed materials, farmers can currently feed pigs and poultry up to 5% non-organic protein in their rations. Also, where organically-reared pullets are not available, farmers may buy in pullets of up to 18 weeks old, provided they have been managed under the organic feed and veterinary standard.

With no Commission intervention, these derogations will revert to the original regulation from 2018, which will require a 100% organic diet. The consequences of this could be severe for the organic sector, as it may be impossible to source the correct nutrition for livestock. There may also be animal welfare concerns for young birds, which are vulnerable to predators, warns the NFU.         

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

“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 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.”

Zoe Davies, chief executive of the NPA, adds: “It is vital for the organic pig sector that these derogations are extended to ensure that producers can continue to control the welfare and diet of their animals. Without these derogations, there are serious concerns that the pig and poultry sectors will not be able to source the right nutrition to give their animals the best possible diet.”