08 February 2023
Organic growing needs further encouragement says OF&G
OF&G (Organic Farmers & Growers), the Defra-approved organic control body in the UK, has welcomed the new Environmental Improvement Plan (EIP), but argues that policy would be strengthened by further encouragement of organic growing to deliver against the goals set out by Defra.
Chief Executive Roger Kerr says the government’s pledge to support up to 80% of landowners and growers in adopting nature-friendly farming practices on at least 10-15% of their land by 2030 through Environmental Land Management policies has a natural affinity with the proven benefits which organic systems already contribute.
“In the recently-published Prospectus for the Environmental Land Management, we have been presented with a ‘pick-and-mix’ proposal containing 280 options that farmers can choose from,” he said. “While there are many opportunities that are potentially good for organic farmers, it does not go far enough to support organic farming as a method of protecting the nation’s £1.8 trillion of natural capital.
“Organic farming is in tune with the ambition of the EIP, however there is no coherent encouragement of organic farming as a way to help deliver Defra’s 10 goals which are all expected to contribute to the “Apex Goal: Thriving plants and wildlife”.
Defra has stated that wildlife habitats equivalent to the size of Dorset have already been restored. but Roger said this is just 2% of the total area of England, pointing out that 1,000 square miles of wildlife habitat should not be "the end point of our country’s environmental progress".
“Rishi Sunak says that ‘protecting that environment is an unequivocal moral good, but it is also fundamental to our health and prosperity’. And although the EIP represents progress - it is not enough to meet the ambition outlined in the PM’s foreword to the plan,” said Roger.
OF&G have highlighted the recent report published by the Nature Friendly Farming Network ‘Consensus on Food, Farming and Nature’ which demonstrates how organic and agroecological growing can help to address climate and biodiversity challenges.
“Organic has shown that it can produce the transformation necessary, and Defra must reflect that within agricultural policy by openly supporting organic farming and so capitalise on the opportunity that organic represents,” said Roger.