The EU organic production logo is an official certification. Regulation (EU) 2018/848 on organic production and labelling of organic products establishes a certification system that allows for the identification of operators abiding by organic production regulations. Thus, the Regulation establishes that before advertising a product as “organic” or “in conversion”, operators shall notify their activity to the competent authorities for their undertaking to be subject to the control system.
In Asturias, this notification is made by applying to be included in the registers of COPAE, which is the competent authority in terms of organic control, and responsible for granting the certificate to operators complying with the Regulation. Operators that are exempted from the requirement of owning the certificate are businesses that sell packaged organic products directly to end users or consumers.
In Asturias, the businesses that sell organic products in bulk or by pieces must also be certified by COPAE.
The Regulation establishes the requirements to be satisfied by control bodies and authorities, for them to have knowledge and experience, and to offer sufficient guarantees of objectivity and impartiality, and be free from any conflict of interests related to the exercise of their control tasks.
To guarantee the transparency of the certification system, EU countries must publish the lists of certified operators and the control fees set to verify compliance with organic production regulations.
According to the European Regulation, the control and certification system may be performed by private control bodies or authorities. In Asturias, COPAE is a control authority, and it is a public and non-profit entity. COPAE takes into account small farmers and operators when setting inspection fees to facilitate access to certification.
In order to harmonise the interpretation of regulations, and to defend a public certification, COPAE is a member of Intereco, a non-profit association of public organic farming control authorities, to implement joint actions aiming at the development of organic farming.
Certification is necessary for consumers to have the clearest assurance that the products have been elaborated, packaged and distributed according to organic production regulations.
To do so, control authorities and bodies conduct strict controls on their operators. They also perform product analyses to identify possible residues of prohibited products such as chemical synthesis pesticides, antibiotics, GMOs or additives, and other substances prohibited in organic production.
Organic production is a promising sector and a market requirement. Hence, the competitive advantages of organic certification and the improvements in profitability for small producers must also be highlighted, as they can obtain an added value by improving the quality of their productions.
Before applying for certification, it is paramount to be duly informed about the organic production regulations and know the measures to be implemented to guarantee their compliance. Here follows a list of general requirements per type of activity. Should you have any doubt or question related to regulations, please contact COPAE technical department.
Bear in mind that agricultural and livestock productions have to go through a conversion period before distributing their production as “organic”. The conversion period usually takes 2 years, and it may be extended to 3 years in the case of fruit crops or be reduced to 12 months in the case of plots of land where it has been demonstrated that no prohibited products have been used over the last three years.
The certification of processing and distribution businesses is faster as in these cases there are no conversion periods.
The certification process starts with applying to be include in the COPAE register. Once the documentation has been received, COPAE will plan a visit to perform the first audit. The inspection report is reviewed by the technical department. The certification decisions are taken by the Certification Committee, which is the last phase before issuing the certificate of conformity that permits the use of the protected wording on the labelling, and advertising distribute the products as organic products.