Organic Farmers & Growers calls out for industry change

25 June 2024, 11:12 AM
  • The organisation has revealed its manifesto for 2024, with four key areas it would like policymakers and government to act on
Organic Farmers & Growers calls out for industry change

Health, ecology, fairness and care are all under the spotlight as Organic Farmers & Growers (OF&G) publishes its latest manifesto – a framework of radical policy targeted at government.

The organisation’s chief executive, Roger Kerr, said the future of food and farming is becoming a ‘political hot potato’, and must urgently be addressed to ensure ongoing security.

“The nation’s seen huge upheaval in the last eight years. A flawed food system has left the country at the tipping point of catastrophic environmental and human health crises,” Roger said. “Decisive action cannot come soon enough. We need policies that create jobs, and improve rural livelihoods while delivering sustainable and economically viable food and farming systems.”

He continued, “Restoring this balance and equity requires ambition and vision from government. The long-term effects of recent policies are still unfolding, but the need for action is urgent. One thing is clear; we must aspire to accomplish more.”
By considering organic’s four founding principles, OF&G’s manifesto identifies solutions that address the huge disparity that exists in current food and farming systems.


OF&G recognises that the health of the nation depends on the quality of food available and consumed. It says a shift to sustainable agriculture could bring unprecedented benefits, producing high quality, nutritious food without chemicals, fertilisers and antibiotics.

The prevalence of ultra processed foods high in fat, sugar and salt, is increasingly considered as having a serious and damaging impact on health, the manifesto continues. Almost two-thirds of the population are thought to be overweight or obese. “The government’s lack of ambition to step away from this flawed food system has left us all at the tipping point of an environmental and human health crisis,” the manifesto states, adding that it believes prioritising organic produce and improving accessibility could help mitigate the burden on the NHS caused by poor diet.

It calls for a food partnership and plan to be established across all regions of Britain, running alongside initiatives to ensure healthy and sustainable food is available to people in care, and proposes new levies to fund pathways making healthier food more accessible to the millions living in food insecure households.


OF&G’s manifesto reports nature degradation risks as causing a 12% loss to UK GDP, and proposes additional funding to support organic farming, through a land use framework that should also include new food and farming strategies.

Within the strategy, it says, would be the delivery of an Organic Action Plan to increase Britain’s farmed areas to 10% organic land – three times the current amount.

“The value of our shared natural environment must not be disregarded,” the manifesto says. “The impacts of climate change are already upon us. In the UK we’re already failing to meet 17 of our 20 biodiversity targets, while record rainfall is drastically reducing yields.”

It says AHDB reports a 15% decrease in wheat production since November 2023, a 28% decrease in oilseed rape, and 22% decrease in winter barley.

“The unchallenged status quo demands that we constantly aim for higher yields through ongoing intensification of our farming systems regardless of consequences,” it states. “We must recognise that sustainable outcomes, such as those proven to be delivered by organic farming, are equally as important measures as aiming for the highest possible yield.”

In addition to an Organic Action Plan, OF&G is calling for a horticultural strategy to increase our self-sufficiency, increased funding for agroecological and organic farming research, development and advisory support.


OF&G says margins on food are “disproportionally weighted in favour of those further up the supply chain”, and that the inequality should be addressed urgently.

“Recent protests outside Westminster and the Senedd would indicate that farmers are acutely aware that their livelihoods are under threat. Largely unable to influence pricing, many farmers have rationalised their production to remain economically viable by cutting costs or increasing yields, and frequently both.”

It says revisions and policy updates have undermined the position many farmers find themselves in.

“Farming needs a plan – it is so fundamental to our future existence and simply cannot be left to the short-term thinking of supermarket buyers to decide. A move towards a fairer, more equitable system of distribution, where the environment is seen alongside food production as a key component in measuring productivity is crucial for genuine food security.”

The OF&G is asking for a strengthened Groceries Code Adjudicator, the establishment of environmental labels based on clear metrics, and the implementation of open and transparent contracts within the supply chain to ensure risk is shared.


The organisation has concerns about the Genetic Technology Act, which has created a streamlined regulatory process for ‘precision bred crops’.

“The long-term environmental impacts of gene edited organisms are not yet fully understood,” the manifesto says, adding there are “justifiable concerns about unintended ecological consequences” and that consumers should continue to be able to make informed choices through transparent production and clear labelling.

The manifesto asks for the delivery of a robust co-existence framework to ensure all businesses can operate with confidence, and to give consumers the choice of whether they want to consume genetically modified or genetically edited foods. It seeks for the ‘precautionary principle’ to be enshrined in law, and for a clear trade policy ensuring deals protect high health, welfare and environmental standards for food production.

“Implementing OF&G’s recommendations would have a massive, beneficial impact. Organic is a defined farming system and operates to the highest level of compliance to deliver on all four of the principles outlined,” adds Roger.

“The recent formal adoption of regulation on nature restoration by the EU shows that, with political will, change is possible. By advocating for policy changes that support health, ecology, fairness, and care, we can create a sustainable, equitable, vibrant and healthy food system. Organic is part of the solution to the challenges confronting us but is not just about changing farming practices, it is about championing a profound, positive impact on our society and the planet.”

close stay up-to-date with our free newsletter | expert intel | tailored industry news | new-to-know trend analysis | sign up | speciality food daily briefing