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B2: Institutional Environment

Principle 1 (Professional Independence)

To ensure professional independence and integrity where bodies closely aligned with the organic sector are involved in data collection, there should be a clear structural division within the lead data production body between the unit or department collating and publishing the data and any business or policy oriented department.

Indicators

1.1 Organisations should have clear ethics statements, which emphasise the means by which they endeavour to ensure the independence of their data and clear company policies, which encourage their employees to be aware of the risk of bias and to act with integrity, by pledging to not misuse and intentionally misinterpret the data developed, produced, and disseminated.

1.2 As for the general case, statistical releases should be clearly distinguished and issued separately from policy statements (ESCP Indicator 1.6).

Principle 2 (Mandate for data collection)

The production of market data should preferably be delegated by law or regulation. Institutions collecting data may include organic control bodies, statistical offices, other state and semi-state bodies and market research companies as well private institutions. The OrganicDataNetwork should cooperate with all relevant organisations engaged in the development, production and dissemination of organic market data.

Indicators

2.1 Organic market data are collected by a number of institutions. These include organic third-party control bodies, which are professionally independent from organic market operators. They are supervised (but not dependent) by national authorities, and they are obliged to provide to these authorities information and data on organic farming producers and processors.

2.2 Organic control bodies, in their by-laws, should specifically mention the means by which they endeavour to ensure the independence and to avoid misuses of their data, in accordance with Principle 1.

2.3 Organic control bodies should include within their license agreements, and similar legal documents, terms which request specific data (not too demanding for the actors to provide) to be returned each year and which allow them to use such data in aggregated format and to provide it to respected third parties (in aggregated, anonymous format) for use in improving the transparency of the organic sector and monitoring its development.

2.4 Consumer data, based on consumers/household data, and retail sales data are available in many countries and owned by commercial market research companies. The OrganicDataNetwork should promote a long-term agreement with these companies to produce a public report of the main aggregated data at EU and country level.

2.5 The OrganicDataNetwork is established as a long-term network of all interested organisations aiming at developing, producing and disseminating organic market data. It will actively promote cooperation with all relevant organisations engaged in the development, production and dissemination of organic market data, with the goal of expanding its membership beyond the current list of founding bodies.

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Principle 3 (Adequacy of Resources)

Organisations aiming to develop, produce and disseminate organic market data should have or establish appropriate and efficient information systems to guarantee the proper implementation of all the principles contained in the present Code of Practice. The resources available for data collection should be sufficient to produce data that meet the quality criteria set out in the European Statistics Code of Practice.

Indicators

3.1 The establishment of an appropriate and efficient information system is a prerequisite for the development of a credible and accountable statistical information service. According to the European Statistics Code of Practice  “institutional and organisational factors have a significant influence on the effectiveness and the creditability” of a statistical body developing, producing and disseminating statistical information.

3.2 Continuing training of people in charge of the development, production and dissemination of organic market statistics is necessary, to ensure that thy possess the necessary knowledge to run the statistical information system. The long-term network established by the OrganicDataNetwork will provide the actual forum to exchange information needed for this continuing training, while new initiatives funded by the Commission could be foreseen, with the relevant involvement of DG-Agri and Eurostat. Provided sufficient funding will be available, the online maintenance of this Code of Practice and Manual will be also ensured within this enlarged network.

3.3 While continuous improvement of the data available should be a constant aim, quality should be emphasised over the amount of data provided (e.g. better to have accurate values for production areas than inaccurate values for both areas and yields) and over-ambitious attempts to do too much with too few resources should be avoided.

3.4 A cost-benefit analysis should be carried out when the organisation is considering collecting/producing new data, in order to check the adequacy of resources with respect to the output statistics foreseen.

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Principle 4 (Commitment to Quality)

Organisations aiming to develop, produce and disseminate organic market data should be committed to quality. High-quality data are those that meet the core needs of all major stakeholders and end-users, including policy makers, private sector operators and researchers. A systematic review of the strength and weaknesses of organic market data production and dissemination throughout Europe should be carried out at least annually by the OrganicDataNetwork.

Indicators

4.1 Quality of organic market data collection should be ensured by a regular review carried out by third-party experts within the framework of the OrganicDataNetwork.

4.2 Procedures to monitor the quality of the data should be implemented, consisting of routinary checks over the data consistency prior to publication.

4.3 Organisations engaged in the development, production and dissemination of organic market data, and especially the staff employed to work with the data, should be aware of the strengths and weaknesses of the data collection and analysis methods used.

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Principle 5 (Statistical Confidentiality)

Organic market operators, and any other individuals and bodies should be guaranteed anonymity and confidentiality when submitting the information they provide, unless written permission to disclose the identity of a contributor or contributors is expressly sought and secured by the data collector.

Indicators

5.1 Organisations engaged in the development, production and dissemination of organic market data should make use of data protection/confidentiality agreements to ensure that data providers feel protected. Such agreements should allow for aggregated/anonymous data to be published.

5.2 The use of trusted independent third parties to hold and analyse data and then provide it to the organic sector in analysed, aggregated form should be considered. This may be particularly important where data is viewed as "commercially sensitive" e.g. multiple retailers are providing market data but do not wish their competitors to be aware of the full details or where control bodies are sharing data with one another.

5.3 In principle, external users should be allowed access to statistical organic microdata only for research purposes and by no means should be able to trace back data providers. An alphanumeric, anonymised unique identifier for each data provider should be used in order to allow time series analyses and data harmonisation without breaching confidentiality.

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Principle 6 (Impartiality and Objectivity)

To avoid misuse or misinterpretation, the OrganicDataNetwork promotes professional, transparent, impartial, objective and timely release of relevant organic market data, and the implementation of sound, harmonised statistical methods and procedures that are disclosed publicly and open to external scrutiny.

Indicators

6.1 Data analysts/statisticians should have the final say in the methods used and analysis presented (not management, policy staff or others with possible reason for bias).

6.2 Before publication, data should be thoroughly checked for consistency and reliability. As is customary for the press, information is considered reliable if confirmed by at least two sources. In rare cases, one source will be sufficient – when data comes from an authoritative source that provides information so detailed that there is no question of its accuracy. Unreliable information should not be published.

6.3 Only when the collection of reliable information is not practicable, the use of good quality estimates by using a multi-expert and standardized methodology (e.g. Delphi panel) is admitted. Single expert estimates should not be considered reliable: the OrganicDataNetwork strongly discourages the use and dissemination of ad hoc, non-rigorous "expert assessments".

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