|What is organic farming?
Organic farming differs from other farming systems in a number of ways. It favours renewable resources and recycling, returning to the soil the nutrients found in waste products. Where livestock is concerned, meat and poultry production is regulated with particular concern for animal welfare and by using natural foodstuffs. Organic farming respects the environment´s own systems for controlling pests and disease in raising crops and livestock and avoids the use of synthetic pesticides, herbicides, chemical fertilisers, growth hormones, antibiotics or gene manipulation. Instead, organic farmers use a range of techniques that help sustain ecosystems and reduce pollution.
The benefits of organic farming on rural development
Organic farming and integrated farming also represent real opportunities on several levels, contributing to vibrant rural economies through sustainable development. Indeed, new employment opportunities in farming, processing and related services are already evident in the growth of the organic sector. As well as the environmental advantages, these farming systems can bring significant benefits both to the economy and the social cohesion of rural areas. The availability of financial support and other incentives for farmers to convert to organic production is designed to help the sector grow still further and to support associated businesses throughout the food chain.
Equally important are the associated enforcement procedures, ensuring that all producers claiming organic status are registered with the competent inspection body in their country. These bodies are themselves designated by and subject to regulation by authorities whose task it is to verify their capability to administer the schemes fairly and efficiently.
Inspection covers all stages in the production process, including storage, processing and packing. Farm inspections are carried out at least once a year and spot checks are also undertaken. Sanctions for infringements of any of the rules include instant removal of the right to claim organic status for the product concerned, with stricter penalties imposed for more serious breaches. Meticulous record keeping is required, including, for livestock farmers, complete records of their livestock management systems.
The organic logo
In March 2000 the European Commission introduced a logo bearing the words "Organic Farming - EC Control System" [Regulation (EEC) No 2092/91 (Consolidated text)] to be used on a voluntary basis by producers whose systems and products have been found on inspection to satisfy EU regulations. Consumers buying products bearing this logo can be confident that:
* at least 95% of the product´s ingredients have been organically produced;
* the product complies with the rules of the official inspection scheme;
* the product has come directly from the producer or preparer in a sealed package;
* the product bears the name of the producer, the preparer or vendor and the name or code of the inspection body.
Source: European commision