In response to the release of the new Agricultural Bill, the licensing body for over half the organic land in the UK, OF&G (Organic Farmers and Growers), says while the plans set-out some positive measures for organic producers, more detail is urgently needed.
“OF&G welcomes aspects of the new Agriculture Bill, particularly the shift from the current direct payment subsidy system to a new environmental land management system where farmers will be paid for ‘public goods’,” says Roger Kerr, CEO of OF&G.
“Improving air and water quality, providing habitats for wildlife, reducing flood risks and improving animal welfare, are already key criteria for organic producers which puts them in good stead moving forward.
“While the proposed increased investment in research and development is also welcome news, this must include further development in ecological farming approaches, which we know, is a key component in the delivery of these public goods,” he adds.
A further area of concern for Mr Kerr is that farmers already delivering in areas identified in the Agriculture Bill may not be fully recognised and rewarded from a whole farm perspective.
“It’s vital that the new environmental land management scheme recognises the diversity of farming systems in producing food efficiently, while supporting improvements to the environment, to ensure the delivery of a truly ‘Green Brexit’ for farmers, food manufacturers and consumers.”
He adds that the organic sector offers a successful model for resilient and regenerative food production.
“OF&G look forward to working with Government to progress some of the key areas within the new agricultural policy, including ecological innovation, which the organic sector has pioneered for several decades.”