Minimum organic grass seed content to remain at 65% until December 2013

30 April 2012

The European Commission and Defra have agreed to continue allowing forage seed mixes containing a percentage of non-organic seed to be used without the need of a seed derogation before use.

Defra has just confirmed that the minimum organic content in an organic grass seed mix that does not need permission before use will remain at 65% up to 31 December 2013. This was agreed after consultation with industry representatives and consideration of the current organic seed supply. It is intended that the minimum organic content will then be increased to 70% from 1 January 2014, subject to careful monitoring of organic seed availability between now and then. The same variety of seed may not be used in both organic and non-organic form within a mix.

All other seed types, including forage mixes containing more than 35% non-organic varieties, can only be used after being granted a derogation. In order to get a derogation you must demonstrate  that it is not available organically and that there are no other suitable organic varieties available.

This allowance is good news as it means that farmers do not need to check the organic availability of all the different seed varieties within a forage mix or submit the data to us before they use the mixes. This saves time and resources for farmers and us as a certification body as the details of the non-organic seed in these mixes only has to to supplied to Defra by the certification bodies once a year. It also allows for new, high performing varieties to be used in the mixes that may not be available currently as organic without having to go through the derogation process before use and it can bring the price of the mixes down as the organic percentage can be made up of the varieties that are more available and less expensive than others.

You may still use individual non-organic forage varieties or forage mixes containing less than 65% organic inclusion but you will have to demonstrate that there are no suitable organic varieties available and obtain a derogation for each non-organic variety being used before you use the seed.

If you have any queries about using organic or non-organic forage seeds please contact your certification officer.

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