Farming industry calls for greater advocacy of organic

29 March 2022, 07:45 AM
  • Industry bodies are pushing for the UK government to champion organic as the future of farming
Farming industry calls for greater advocacy of organic

Leading organic farming body OF&G (Organic Farmers and Growers) has published a new manifesto entitled ‘Championing organic within agricultural policy’ which highlights the key advantages of the organic approach in response to the current unprecedented upheaval in the farming sector.

The manifesto calls for policy recognition of organic and highlights the key advantages of the organic approach. These include issues such as global standards, transformative farming practices, food integrity, carbon sequestration, biodiversity enhancements and market opportunity.

Roger Kerr, OF&G chief executive, believes that terms like ‘regenerative’ and ‘agroecological’, which lack legally defined, whole-system standards, create increasing confusion in the industry, and greater advocacy of organic would in turn alleviate this. 

Why organic is the future
With an increasing threatening climate crisis on our hands, the food industry has a big task at hand to reduce emissions and create a healthier environment. 

Roger argues: “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.

“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.”

In fact, the OG&F manifesto suggests that if 10% of UK farm land was organic, we would save at least a 9.4 million tonnes CO2e in greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) and benefit from increased carbon sequestration worth over £188 million annually in carbon permit trading terms.

Organic food is growing in popularity
Not only will a shift of focus to organic farming benefit the environment, it will also satisfy a growing consumer demand

The Soil Association’s Organic Market Report 2022 showed that demand for organic food is at an all-time high. The organic market has achieved its 10th consecutive year of growth, with sales increasing by 23% in the last two years to reach over £3 billion. This offers a huge opportunity for the fine food sector, as well as for farmers embarking on a transition to organic.

Liz Bowles, Soil Association director of farming and land use told Speciality Food: “We welcome the launch of OF&G’s organic manifesto and support their efforts to highlight the advantages of an organic approach to farming – something we clearly hold dear. There has never been a more critical time to highlight the benefits of the organic sector with its clearly defined standards, especially when concerns around food security, the environment, nature and health are so prevalent. 

“This is why the Soil Association has been working with DEFRA to help them support the transition to organic and agroecological farming systems, with the notable outcome of the introduction of an organic standard into the Sustainable Farming Incentive (Defra finally breaks silence). We will continue to highlight that the Government cannot disregard the weight of evidence which shows that the organic farming sector offers immense benefits for biodiversity, animal welfare and healthy soils.”

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