The 6th ORC Organic Producers’ Conference at Aston University, Birmingham, opens today (Wednesday) with a strong message of support from Defra’s farming Minister Jim Paice. In it, he recognises that the conference, now firmly established in the organic conference calendar and attracting more than 200 participants, provides an invaluable opportunity for organic producers, technical experts and others to share their knowledge and expertise for the good of the organic sector and sustainable farming in general. He describes the event as an excellent example of the organic industry working together to set a benchmark for others.
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 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 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 www.organicresearchcentre.com. Detailed proceedings will be available shortly.
The Organic Research Centre based at Elm Farm near Newbury is the UK’s leading independent research centre dedicated to the development of sustainable food systems based on organic/agro-ecological principles. Further information on our activities can be found at www.organicresearchcentre.com
This series of Organic Producers’ Conference was initiated at the end of 2006 with financial support from Defra and the EU for the Organic Inform project. Since 2010, the conference has been self-financing and attracts over 200 participants annually. Further details can be found following the links from our website homepage.
Further information can be obtained from:
The Defra contact person with respect to the Minister’s statement is Kevin Ruston: Kevin.email@example.com c/o 17 Smith Square, London, SW1P 3JR, Tel: 020 7238 5066