Rules and regulations

Meat, poultry, fish, egg and dairy production

WFA affiliated producers wishing to use the WFA symbol on any of the above products are expected to comply with WFA principles.

This requires that producers source all feed either from their own land, from other WFA producers or from certified organic suppliers and do not routinely feed their animals products containing antibiotics or other medications (only prescribed veterinary medicines are permitted) or GMOs.

However, we recognise that in some areas sufficient supplies of suitable feedstuffs are currently not available, or only at a price that would endanger the economic viability of the farm. In these cases, we expect producers to declare their sources and types of feed on their pledge and to ensure that all feed is free from GMOs and antibiotics.

Producers can help each other by arranging joint purchases in order to obtain quantity discounts.

Permitted fungicides and pesticides

The term ‘natural’ is inadequate to differentiate between the permissible and the proscribed, as some of the most toxic substances known are products of nature. Our attitude to ‘chemical’ inputs is that we do not approve the use of any substance that is considered to be persistently toxic, or that is likely to have measurable effects beyond the specific control of a pest or disease that presents a serious and imminent threat to a crop. We do not expect our growers to lose a crop rather than use a relatively benign treatment, as long as customers are given accurate information.

Transparency and traceability are integral to the WFA approach, as defined by the pledge and the open gate policy. This is particularly important to people who are highly sensitive to certain chemicals, as they will seek out local WFA produce in preference to distantly-sourced ‘organic’ because they can have direct contact with the grower and ask questions.

Well-known American organic gardener and writer Eliot Coleman, who has expressed his support for the WFA, says

Don’t worry about pests. Relax, bugs are indicators, not enemies. They tell us that something isn’t quite right with our soil or growing conditions. If you keep the soil aerated and fertile your plants will be less stressed and they’ll attract fewer pests. Pay attention to your garden and learn from what it has to teach you. Look and see how Mother Nature does things, and take your cue from her. Share what you learn. Farmers and gardeners shouldn’t hoard secrets. An idea expands when different growers try it out. Information is like compost; it does no good unless you spread it around.

These are the treatments we currently consider to be acceptable for emergency use only:

  • Sabadilla is derived from the seeds of the sabadilla lily (Schoenocaulon officinale). The active ingredient is an alkaloid known as veratrine. Sabadilla is considered among the least toxic of botanical insecticides.
  • Pyrethrum is a widely used botanical insecticide. The active ingredient, pyrethrin, is extracted from the chrysanthemum plant, Dendranthemum cinerariaefolium, grown primarily in Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Ecuador.
  • Neem is a botanical pesticide derived from the seeds of the neem tree, a native of India. The neem tree supplies at least two compounds, azadirachtin and salannin, that have insecticidal activity, and other unknown compounds with fungicidal activity. Neem has been used for more than 4,000 years in India and Africa for medicinal as well as pest control purposes.
  • Sulphur is probably the oldest known pesticide in current use. Homer described the benefits of pest-averting sulphur 3,000 years ago. Sulphur can be used as a dust, wettable powder, paste or liquid. It is used for disease control because it is effective against powdery mildews, certain rusts, leaf blights and fruit rots. However, spider mites, psyllids and thrips also are susceptible to sulphur.
  • Lime sulphur is made by boiling lime and sulphur together. This mixture is used as a dormant spray for fruit trees to control such diseases as blight, anthracnose and powdery mildew, and certain insects such as scales, eriophyid mites and spider mites.
  • Bordeaux mixture is a product of the reaction between copper sulphate and calcium hydroxide (lime). It is not approved for use by organic growers. First used in Bordeaux, France, as a control for downy mildew, this mixture is primarily used as a fungicide to control bacterial leaf spots, blights, anthracnose, downy mildews and cankers.

The following are not limited to emergency use only:

  • Horticultural oils are highly refined so that compounds toxic to plants are removed. Considered effective and safe, they can be used to control insects as well as diseases.
  • Soaps have been used for 200 years or more and are effective against soft-bodied insects such as aphids, some scales, psyllids, whiteflies, thrips, mealybugs and spider mites.
  • Baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) has been found to have fungicidal properties. Researchers at Cornell University discovered that a combination of baking soda and Sunspray horticultural oil applied to rose leaves infected with powdery mildew or black spot will significantly reduce the incidence of disease.
  • Diatomaceous earth (DE) is a non-toxic insecticide mined from the fossilized silica shell remains of diatoms. Diatoms are single-celled or colonial algae in the class Bacillarophyceae.