On October 13th, the European Parliament’s Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development adopted Martin Häusling’s report (Greens/EFA, DE) on Organic production and labelling of organic products. The draft text was approved with 33 votes to 4 and 7 abstentions. It also gave the rapporteur and his shadows a mandate to launch negotiations with the Council.
The report amends the Commission proposal in several critical points. In particular, instead of specific decertification thresholds for pesticides, MEPs introduced new precautionary measures to increase the accountability of operators throughout the organic supply chain and avoid the use of non-authorised techniques. After 2020, the Commission would have the possibility to present a legislative proposal to set maximum thresholds for non-authorised substances and farmers’ compensation for unavoidable contamination.
Regarding the controls, while maintaining the risked based approach, MEPs reintroduced the annual, physical, on-site check on all organic farms. They insisted that organic farming requires a tailored controls regime along the entire chain to avoid food fraud.
Furthermore, the committee reintroduced the derogation for mixed farms, i.e. farms producing both conventional and organic food, on condition that their conventional and organic farming activities are clearly separated and differentiated. The MEPs also supported group certification for small farmers to make their lives easier and attract more of them into the organic farming business.
Finally, concerning imports, the committee supported the Commission’s initial proposal to ensure that all imported products comply with EU rules. Current equivalence rules should be phased out within the next five years.