Agricultural accountants concerned over EC organic rules
According to leaked proposals from Brussels, farmers could be prohibited from growing conventional and organic produce at the same time.
The draft plans leaked to a German magazine suggest the EC plans to tighten the rules on organic production, forcing farmers to go 100% organic.
Under current rules, farmers are able to grow conventional produce alongside organic produce, if they are able to show it is necessary to keep their businesses economically viable.
The EC say the new rules are designed to prevent fraud and cross-contamination, but farming experts have warned that the new rules could put businesses at risk due to fluctuations in the demand for organic food.
Chris Wright, a partner at specialist agricultural accountants Moore Thompson, which has offices in Spalding, Wisbech and Market Deeping, said: “These proposals could have a serious impact on the finances of organic farmers and growers in our area, particularly those that need to supplement their income from organic produce with conventional crops due to fluctuations in yield and price.
“Many farmers who are thinking about going organic often convert small sections of their farm at first to see if it is economically viable for them.
“The new rules could force farmers to convert their whole farm at once, rather than piece by piece.
“We would seriously urge the EC to think again about implementing these proposals so our farmers and producers are not hit financially.”
The UK’s largest organic certification scheme, the Soil Association, said that while an estimated 15% of its members grew both organic and conventional crops, any increased measures to safeguard organic food would be welcomed.
Rob Sexton, its head of certification, said it would be difficult to comment on the plans as they have yet to be formally released, however he stressed the UK organic sector was already “rigorously inspected and regulated.” He added: “Should the EU commission take further steps to ensure such high standards across EU member states and beyond, this would only further maintain the integrity of organic food.”
The EC said it is still in the process of preparing the draft regulations, while Roger Waite, the EC’s spokesman on agriculture and rural development, said the proposed new regulations were likely to be presented at the end of March.
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