Minister signals support for organic

Defra’s farming minister, Jim Paice, has signalled the government’s ongoing support for Britain’s organic sector as the 2012 ORC Organic Producer’s Conference begins in Birmingham.

The Minister said: “I have often said that organic farming is one of the pioneers of sustainable farming methods. It offers important lessons that can be taken up by the wider UK agricultural sector, as we strive to increase production but to do so sustainably. Organic production also gives consumers the choice of certified organic products that include the assurance of recognised animal welfare.”

He continued: “These are some of the reasons why I am pleased that the role of organic farming continues to be supported in the European Commission’s proposals on CAP reform. Discussions are still at an early stage, but I can assure you my intention is to press for the best deal possible for UK farmers, including organic farmers.”

The 6th ORC Organic Producers’ Conference at Aston University, Birmingham, opened today (18 January), attracting over 200 delegates. The debate on CAP reform, and in particular the high profile given to organic farming in the proposals to ‘green’ agricultural support payments, will be the main focus of the opening plenary. Speakers are expected to highlight the current wide variations in support for organic farming across Europe, with the UK close to the bottom of the league, and to call for CAP Reform to provide a more consistent basis for organic policy support across Europe so as to not disrupt markets while still obtaining the environmental and other benefits expected by society.

The two-day conference will also focus on agro-ecological approaches to improving the environmental, technical and financial performance of organic production systems and food supply chains. Topics will include arable agro-forestry systems, non-inversion tillage for organic farming, carbon footprints of extensive livestock production, supply chain sustainability and many more.

The full list of speakers and workshops for the event has been published and can be found at Detailed proceedings will be available shortly.