New proposals to lessen the cost of organic certification for small scale producers form part of an EU Commission regulation on organic production and labelling according to Mairead McGuinness, Fine Gael MEP.

She said the regulation is currently being debated in the Parliament where there is support for the reduced costs and administration burden.

McGuinness said she has received confirmation that the Commission proposal will take account of concerns she had raised on the high costs of organic certification relative to the supports paid to organic producers.

“As well as the administrative burden the new regulation will reduce inspection and certification costs. And it is aimed at strengthening local networks, contributing to better market outlets, and ensuring a level playing field with operators in third countries,” the MEP said.

“The new system should make it a lot more attractive for people to enter organic production. For far too long regulation has been either non-existent or of a one- size-fits-all nature which impacts disproportionately on smaller producers,.

“It is time that the needs of small organic producers are addressed. I have received representation from small scale, committed organic producers who point to the high cost of certification as being a real problem to their ongoing participation in the sector.

“In this regard the clarification I have received from the Commission is indeed welcome,” she said.

McGuinness said a stakeholders' consultation carried out as part of the impact assessment of the proposed new regulation showed that for small farms, control and certification costs together with the record keeping obligations are amongst the major barriers to entry into the organic system.

The Commission's proposal introduces, in its Article 26, a system of group certification for small-scale farmers with a view to reducing the inspection and certification costs and the associated administrative burden, among other things.

McGuinness said that work on the new regulation will continue over the coming months.