New organic legislation has entered into force across the EU since the commencement of the new year, following the postponement of its implementation for a year.

The new rules reflect the changing nature of this rapidly growing sector, according to the European Commission, and are designed to ensure fair competition for farmers.

They are also aimed at preventing fraud and maintaining consumer trust through the following:

  • Production rules will be simplified through the phasing out of a number of exceptions and opt outs;
  • The control system will be strengthened thanks to tighter precautionary measures and robust checks along the entire supply chain;
  • Producers in third countries will have to comply with the same set of rules as those producing in the EU;
  • Organic rules will cover a wider list of products such as salt, cork, beeswax, maté (a caffeine-rich infused drink), vine leaves, and palm hearts, and will have additional production rules (e.g. deer, rabbits and poultry);
  • Certification will be easier for small farmers thanks to a new system of group certification;
  • There will be a more uniform approach to reducing the risk of accidental contamination from pesticides;
  • Exemptions for production in demarcated beds in greenhouses will be phased out.

In March 2021, the European Commission launched an organic action plan for the European Union.

It set out to achieve the European Green Deal target of 25% of agricultural land under organic farming by 2030.

The plan is comprised of 23 actions divided across three axes:

  • Axis 1: Stimulate demand and ensure consumer trust;
  • Axis 2: Stimulate conversion and reinforce the entire value chain;
  • Axis 3: Organics leading by example – improve the contribution of organic farming to environmental sustainability.

Last September, the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission launched an annual ‘EU organic day’, which will take place on September 23 each year.