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Organic chicks: German producer association takes legal action against EU Commission

by Leo Frühschütz (comments: 0)

Two hands with one chicken each
Chickens symbol picture © Pixabay/congerdesign

The EU Commission continues to allow conventional chicks in organic laying hen husbandry. The German producers' association Fürstenhof is taking legal action against this. It has its own organic hatchery and sees the sale of its organic chicks impaired by the generous EU exemptions.

With the regulation 2018/1584, the EU Commission extended several exceptions to the EU Organic Regulation in October 2018. These include one that allows the purchase of non-organically reared pullets until the end of 2020, and if no organic pullets are available.

The producer association Fürstenhof with its 23 farms is the largest organic egg producer in Germany, has two large herds of organic parent animals and was the tenant of an organic hatchery in Lower Saxony where these eggs were hatched. In the meantime Fürstenhof has built up its own hatchery and opened it a few days ago.

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New EU Organic Regulation: Large henhouses still possible

The detailed provisions of the new EU Organic Regulation in the poultry sector will be more detailed and cover more areas than before. However, organic farms with 30,000 or more laying hens remain possible.

As early as 2016, the authorities in several German federal states obliged organic egg producers to only breed young hens that had already been born as organic chicks from organic parents. Producers in other EU and federal states, especially in the Netherlands, may continue to use conventional chicks. The local authorities are ignoring the fact that organic hatcheries in Germany could supply Dutch producers with organic chicks.

2.5 million euros in damages possible for Fürstenhof

The EU Organic Regulation states that the EU Commission must limit exceptions to the minimum necessary. Attorney Hanspeter Schmidt, representing the Fürstenhof, sees this legal mandate violated by the Commission's actions. Therefore he demands nearly 2.5 mn euros compensation for Fürstenhof.

In the statement of claim, the lawyer makes clear how he would have imagined the necessary minimum: The exception may only be used "if no hatchery within a radius of up to 500 kilometres around the location of the young laying hen husbandry offers organic chicks". This would have obliged Dutch egg producers to consider German offers as well. In order to prove that there are no organic chicks, the companies would have to present "the futile order from three hatcheries known as organic chick suppliers". According to the statement of claim, evidence from hatcheries that do not offer any organic chicks is sufficient.

It is not only German organic hatcheries that should expect the outcome of the proceedings with interest. The Dutch hatchery Verbeek announced at the end of January that it now has its own organic parent herd and that the first organic chicks have hatched.


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