The largest certifier of organic land in the UK, OF&G (Organic Farmers & Growers) has published its manifesto ‘Championing organic within agricultural policy’ to highlight the key advantages of the organic approach in response to the unprecedented transitional upheaval in the farming sector.
OF&G chief executive, Roger Kerr, believes that terms like regenerative and agroecological, which lack legally defined, whole-system standards, create increasing confusion.
“We are asking that organic, with its proven ‘real world’ evidence of delivery, is given clear and unambiguous recognition,” says Mr Kerr. “Policymakers must acknowledge organic’s potential to contribute positively to the challenges we all face, in alleviating the social and environmental impacts of our farming and food system.”
The blueprint sets out the case for why policymakers should consider organic and to help farmers, food businesses and consumers recognise the multiple benefits organic delivers.
“Time is running out for prudent decisions to be made within Defra,” he says. “A lack of detail and continuing uncertainty is hampering the development of agricultural policy and regulation which, in turn, means farmers are unable to make long term plans.”
“OF&G has been lobbying continuously on behalf of our licensees to secure organic’s inclusion within future farming policy frameworks. Progress feels very slow when, in our opinion, the legal regulatory framework that already underpins organic farming, also offers a firm basis to help deliver on Defra’s stated aims for the provision of public goods in a substantive and cost-effective way.”
Establishing ten core reasons why organic deserves to be acknowledged, the manifesto covers key issues such as globally recognised standards, transformative farming practices, food supply chain, carbon sequestration, biodiversity enhancements and market opportunities.The manifesto also features a case study based on one of Defra’s Test and Trials, run on the organically managed Cholderton Estate in Wiltshire.
OF&G’s organic manifesto: ten reasons to believe
Organic farmer, Henry Edmunds, Cholderton Estate’s trial confirms the positive Natural Capital opportunity, demonstrating that an organic systems-based approach to land management delivers many of the ‘public goods’ so urgently needed.
“The pressure on us all because of the climate and nature crises is enormous, there really is no time to waste and organic has proven its case as an effective solution over many decades,” says Mr Edmunds. “The mixed farming enterprises we have at Cholderton are working and because we’re organic we’re able to run an economically and ecologically successful farming business producing high quality food alongside and in harmony with the natural landscape.”
Mr Kerr insists that with decades of research supporting organic’s positive outcomes, the publication of the manifesto provides an opportunity to convey a concise and factual account of its advantages that will encourage wider recognition.
“We felt it important to strip the manifesto back to the essential truths,” continues Mr Kerr. “OF&G is not suggesting every UK farm embrace organic conversion, but that a range of diverse approaches, including organic, will help protect our environment while delivering the resilience and adaptations necessary for UK farmers to continue to produce food in the face of the increasing climate volatility that we will see in the coming years.
“Everyone has a vested interest in supporting more benign, sustainable practices to safeguard the future. Environmentally favourable farming practices are undergoing re-invention and rebranding, however organic provides the only clear, current and verified solution.”
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