Organic Centre Wales has been informed that all funding for Welsh OCIS and OCW core activities has ceased with effect from 31st December 2011. This follows the loss of the Farming Connect Organic Development programme earlier in 2011, and means that OCW has been for forced to reduce substantially the level of service to the sector and other users.
Activities funded by the core funds included: the Organic Wales monthly bulletin, the website, work on education and school visits to farms, co-ordination of organic areas at Welsh agricultural events, policy analysis and advice to the Welsh Government, engagement in organic standards development, participation on WG and UK advisory groups, organic data and statistics collection and dissemination, telephone technical helpline and responses to enquiries from home and overseas.
The OCIS service provided an information pack and up to three free advisory visits to enable farmers thinking of moving to organic production to be fully informed of the implications and suitability for their business. Farmers should note that this service was quite distinct from those offered under Farming Connect which are unaffected by this change in funding, and can be accessed via the Farming Connect Service Centre.
Sue Fowler, Director of OCW, said “we are clearly very disappointed that, at this time when organic farming has so much to offer in terms of sustainable food production, and organic farming is featuring more prominently in the next phase of CAP Reform, Wales is losing the services and expertise in which it has invested over the last 10 years.”
OCW will make a fuller statement when plans are clearer, but OCW staff will continue to deliver the Better Organic Business Links supply chain project.
The Organic Research Centre has been an active partner in OCW since its foundation in 2000 and will be working with OCW colleagues to address this serious loss of producer-focused services in Wales. Welsh organic sector representatives are also seeking to raise the issue with the Deputy Minister responsible.
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