Government backing for Welsh organic good news for sector

The announcement of ongoing support for organic farmers in Wales has been welcomed by one of the sector’s leading control bodies.

Organic Farmers & Growers said measures revealed under the Welsh Assembly Government’s Glastir schemes demonstrated an understanding of the needs of organic producers and was capable of underpinning a resurgence of production in Wales.

Officials have made public details of the support that will allow farmers to have confidence in moving into, or back into, organic production. Glastir Organic includes allowances to underpin the conversion process, during which produce cannot be sold as organic, through to ongoing maintenance for the benefits organic methods of farming bring to the environment. There is also an allowance for the costs of mandatory certification.

Organic Farmers & Growers (OF&G), which certifies many Welsh organic producers, expressed slight surprise at the absence of specific support for organic arable producers, however there are provisions with other elements of Glastir which they can tap into and benefit from, albeit not specifically for their organic status.

Chief executive of Shropshire-based OF&G, Roger Kerr, said: “The evident ongoing support for organic food and farming in Wales is very welcome and comes at a time when the sector is ready to rebound from the challenges of recent years when the entire economy has suffered.

“Organic arable production underpins much of the sector, which badly needs home grown cereals for animal feed and food production, so we were a bit surprised that it was not directly supported under Glastir Organic, but we are reassured that arable producers should not be penalised thanks to other parts of Glastir that apply to them.”

OF&G has put particular focus on organic arable production, given its critical place in the sector, and is to bring hundreds of farmers, researchers, millers, retailers and support services together on July 1 for its National Organic Cereals event, at a host farm in Buckinghamshire.

Mr Kerr added: “With the support of their Government now quite clearly laid-out, we would encourage Welsh farmers to join us at National Organic Cereals and use the opportunity to network with their peers and learn from the very focused presentations and demonstrations, as well as the crop trials we have.”

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