Further to the Soil Association’s response to Defra’s new Environmental Land Management schemes, announced at the Oxford Farming Conference, Organic Farmers & Growers (OF&G) has called for more details of the proposals and asked for policymakers to ‘voice the important market opportunity for organic faming’.
Roger Kerr, chief executive, OF&G, says Defra has failed to ‘name-check organic’ and is ‘failing to flag a market opportunity to farmers looking to adapt to the changing farming landscape’.
“We’re still missing detail on how new schemes will integrate with existing land management initiatives. And while the Local Nature Recovery scheme could be a good fit for organic, farmers need much greater detail if they are to plan for the next five to ten years,” comments Kerr.
“Making space for nature, creating wildlife habitat, choosing nature-based solutions, are all exactly what the UK’s 3,604 certified organic farmers have always done.
“[Organic is] a system that delivers public goods while also providing nutritious food and sustaining rural economies. With the organic market growing at a rate of over 8% year-on-year, surely it is a mistake on the part of Government not to now publicly recognize this opportunity.
Now is not the time to be shying away from backing what is a lucrative and environmentally beneficial system for many UK farm enterprises
“It is the job of Government to provide support that is both consistent and accessible.
“What we are calling for is recognition that organic is a clear part of the wider Defra policy agenda. The UK needs a strong organic supply base and there’s an obvious fit with Defra’s environmental direction,” he notes, adding that while organic farming ‘won’t be for everyone’, spiralling input costs make it worth exploring for those open to the change.
“It’s disappointing that George Eustice has again failed to give proper assurance to Britain’s farming community and missed an opportunity to highlight the need for the integrated approach to land management that organic already offers. Now is not the time to be shying away from backing what is a lucrative and environmentally beneficial system for many UK farm enterprises.”