Organic farmers violate rules as demand grows

Milk cow

Due to the rapid growth of the biologically produced foods market, organic farmers are increasingly making mistakes and violating branch regulations, the Algemeen Dagblad reports. 

Supervisor of branch inspection Skal noted 339 "serious aberrations" in the last six months. In 2300 cases, bio-farmers have received a warning, and 26 have lost their permits. One butcher and importer of potatoes, vegetables and fruits from Utrecht has lost their bio-certificate.

The AD writes that the sector believes its problem lies in the massive growth of the market. Consumers are more aware of organic produce, and buy biological food more often despite its higher price and the tough economic crisis. According to the paper, the turnover for the sector is more than €1 billion a year.

For farmers, including Jan Jaap Jantjes, an organic milk cow farmer, the problem could be alleviated by stricter controls. The 'bio' certificate label is controlled from top to bottom, from fertilizer and cattle feed to the end product, which is a lot to control.

Jantjes tells the AD that he understands from the consumer standpoint the need for these thorough inspections, as the consumer has to know that he is not paying extra for organic produce for no reason.

"Producing the way that we do is more expensive. We do therefore need that higher price. To keep the image, the rotten apples have to go. Luckily, there aren't many. But such a scandal at butcher VION is also bad for us", Jantjes tells the AD.

Jan Groen, director of Green Organics from Dronten, advises conscientious consumers that their best bet is to go to biological supermarkets or organic shops, which only work with farmers and companies that are 100 percent biological.

"Even though there are regular supermarkets that also sharply watch over that range. But if they place biological produce on the shelves purely for the image, and cost cut at the same time, there is a risk", Groen tells the AD. "Even then, that bio label isn't there for nothing, and the chance is still 99.8 percent that the product really is organic. A supermarket doesn't want scandals either.


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