UK organic Control Bodies recognised by EU but uncertainty remains

The EU Commission has approved a regulation to recognise all six of the UK organic Control Bodies as certifying to an equivalent EU standard until 31 December 2021, for the purpose of trade in organics.

This will allow UK organic produce to continue to be traded across European markets next year, which would otherwise have been closed to the sector from 1 January 2021. This reciprocates the UK’s decision to do the same for the EU control bodies a few weeks ago.

Defra commented on their blog that this means that the organic food and drink industry in the UK will be able to operate with increased certainty after the end of the Transition Period.

Food Minister Victoria Prentis welcomed this decision:

This decision means the UK’s organic food and drink industry will have the certainty it needs to flourish after the end of the Transition Period.

Consumers at home and abroad will continue to be able to buy and enjoy produce from our excellent organic farmers, food producers and processors.

OF&G (Organic Farmers & Growers) has welcomed the news. However, they point out that uncertainty remains as the recognition fails to address the regulatory status beyond the end of 2021 as new EU organic regulation comes into effect on 1 January 2022.

“This is a short-term gain for the industry and the news will be a relief to the organic sector that’s been living with uncertainty for so long, but it still doesn’t deliver the robust national organic equivalency agreement between the UK and EU we’re calling for. We would anticipate that this would avoid the need for label changes and could mean that the requirement for certificates of inspection can be avoided once there’s an agreement. This would be of significant benefit to operators.”

OF&G CEO and ORC Trustee Roger Kerr.

See also coverage in BBC Radio 4 Farming Today, Farmers Guardian, the Grocer and Farming UK

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