Brexit and Organic Certification - the need to know
Brexit and Organic Certification
Keeping you informed
Having consulted with our licensees and trade stakeholders, we're very aware of the uncertainties and concerns surrounding organic trade in the post-Brexit environment. As the UK’s largest organic certifier, where possible, we want to reassure and support businesses in making important commercial decisions in the coming months.
Although the transitional period announced last March means we anticipate some breathing space, with no final confirmation of a Brexit deal at this time, we're continuing to look at solutions.
Implications of a no deal Brexit for organic businesses
The UK Government Technical Paper on Organic Production and Labelling released in August provides some clarity on what will happen should the UK leave the EU without a deal. Since August, Soil Association Certification have been in regular communication with DEFRA, representing our licensees concerns and seeking clarity on critical trade issues. This page provides the latest information relating to key aspects of organic trade in the event of no deal.
Will standards and control of organic be affected?
If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, we would continue to maintain existing high standards and control bodies would continue certifying UK organic operators for UK trade.
New organic food & farming statutory instruments AG02 and AG15 have now been debated by both government houses and voted through. Statutory instruments referring to transfer of powers from commission to ministers in the UK are yet to be debated. A new regulation means some other important changes:
Soil Association Certification will be adapting all UK organic food and farming licences to incorporate requirements of regulation (EC) 1235/2008 to allow ongoing access to the EU organic market. This will mean operators will still need to comply with the Defra operated UK organic standards as well as the EU Commission’s scheme, which is necessary to ensure all operators have access to the EU market.
Minor changes will be made to both our standards and your certification documents. After Brexit licensees should ask for a new copy of their certificate and trading schedule if they are trading with companies within the EU.
What will change for those exporting to the EU?
The UK organic certification system will no longer be recognised by the EU, so UK certifiers will have to apply to the EC for individual approval under (EC) regulation 1235/2008. Until UK certifiers gain this approval it will not be possible to export organic product to the EU.
What if I am importing products into the UK from the EU?
The UK will continue to recognise products from the EU, EEA and Switzerland for a time-limited period, starting from the date of exit and ending 31st December 2020. See the importing section of our FAQ for more detail.
Product from the EU (and EEA states) won’t require any checks at point of entry, unless there is a specific integrity risk identified for a particular raw ingredient. There will be no need for Certificates of Import (COIs) or other paperwork to be completed. DEFRA will continue to work closely with the UK certifiers on the future implementation of the UK regulation.
Find out more about importing of animals, animal products and high-risk food and feed and the new UK IPAFFS here
And importing products into the UK from outside the EU ?
Whilst the UK transitions Commission Regulation (EC) No 1235/2008 to UK law, the UK will continue to recognise products from all 13 EU approved third countries and from other third countries where the certifier of the product has EN1235 approval.
Importers should continue to use TRACES NT system until UK exit, then move across to UK interim paper-based COI for anything arriving into the UK from outside the EU after UK exit.
See the importing section of our FAQ for more details on changes to documents or procedures.
Will there need to be changes to labelling for export and the UK market?
There are a number of issue which will effect product labelling, should we exit without a deal. See the labelling section of our FAQ for more detail.
Where can I get further general information on Brexit?
For agriculture and food businesses who would like more general information on no deal preparation for business, including port clearance, EORI and product licences, the government have published guidance in the form of a short video on YouTube.
Find out more from the UK government about:
Activity from Defra and other international organic bodies
DEFRA are progressing statutory instruments (enforcement and regs) ready to support the withdrawal bill regarding organic regulations being embedded in UK Law. DEFRA are also progressing equivalence deals with non-EU international trading partners including the USA, Australia and Canada. These cannot be formalised before 28 March, but nations can sign letters of intent. Find out more about Brexit implications for export
Our progress to-date
We have applied for 1235 scope extension for UK to the EU Commission, are investigating setting up in the Republic of Ireland as an accredited certification body and are establishing partnerships to improve access to key non-EU markets, once we are outside the EU. Find out more about the process
Call to action
We're calling for DEFRA to negotiate with EU alternative unconventional options if necessary. This could include unilateral acceptance of organic imports from the UK by the EU, in recognition and consideration of the interdependency of the organic supply chain across the EU. Our preference is that the UK Government apply for the UK as a whole to be deemed a country of equivalency under Annex 3 of Regulation 1235/2008.
Both of the above options are complex and time consuming due to EU approval processes, but we are calling for both to be fast tracked in this unprecedented situation.
We will continue to lobby and high level of public debate to keep pressure on UK and EU to avoid no deal scenario, and are asking for the sector to support an IFOAM positioning paper currently being drafted to lobby the EU Commission.
We will maintain our ongoing dialogue with DEFRA to clarify their process in managing the EU discussion and reaching a solution to achieve continuity for organic trade between EU and UK. We are also calling on DEFRA to clarify plans for Certificate of Inspection required for export to EU and progress with testing an import system to replace TRACES from 29 March. In addition, we will press on with our Republic of Ireland application.
We acknowledge that businesses need to continue to consider contingency such as stock piling critical long-life ingredients, to mitigate supply challenges during early weeks of a potential no deal Britain.
Listen back to our CEO Martin Sawyer in the second of our Brexit webinars, explaining some of the key impacts Brexit will have for organic businesses
Brexit and Organic Certification Frequently Asked Questionsread more