ARCHIVE: Converting to organic farming
Organic farming may offer UK farmers an opportunity to improve business profitability, biodiversity and sustainability both within agriculture and rural communities. Consumer interest is growing and being involved in organic production can help re-connect farming with the public.
The retail market for organic products exceeds £1.8bn per year and the prediction is that this will increase, with opportunities to substitute imports through increased home production.
The sections below offer advice on the following topics:
- converting to organic farming
- considering organic conversion
- marketing organic products
- organic standards
For an overview of the key requirements of an organic farming system, both arable and livestock, see the organic farming methods page of this site which covers issues including:
- soil fertility
- crop rotation
- crop protection
- animal health
- use of manures
Some farmers and growers may be missing a good opportunity if they do not give serious thought to organic production. Undergoing conversion could help you maintain or improve your income, meet the growing consumer demand for organic food and manage your land in a more environmentally beneficial way.
Organic Conversion Information Service (OCIS)
Defra’s new Organic Conversion Information Service (OCIS) could help you take your first steps to assess whether organic conversion is right for you and your business.
The new service was launched on 25 March 2008 and opens to callers on 31 March 2008. It will be managed by Natural England on behalf of Defra. Natural England has appointed the Organic Research Centre (ORC), based at Elm Farm, to deliver the new service after inviting tenders in the usual way.
For further information please contact Nick Cooper, OCIS Project Manager on 01483 307705.
Organic products can only be marketed as such if they meet EU approved standards. These are administered in the UK by a number of Defra approved Organic Inspection Bodies which are also able to inspect and certify organic holdings. The current legally enforceable UK standards can be found in the Compendium of UK Organic Standards.
Only food that has been produced in accordance with organic standards by farmers/producers registered with an approved inspection body may be legally sold as ‘organic’ within the EU.
Farmers markets, farm shops and conventional retail outlets all offer good opportunities for selling organic products.
For further details of marketing opportunities for organic produce contact the Organic Inspection Bodies.
The main components of organic farming are avoiding the use of artificial fertilisers and pesticides, and the use of crop husbandry to maintain soil fertility and control weeds, pests and diseases.
The standards which need to be complied with in the UK are detailed in the Compendium of UK Organic Standards.
Details of the relevant EU and UK legislation, including any amendments enacted after the Compendium’s publication, can be found on the organic legislation and standards page of the Defra website.
- Environmental Stewardship Schemes
- Organic Action Plan
- Organic Entry Level Stewardship (OELS)
- Organic Inspection Bodies
- Transfer of agreements from OFS to OELS
- Organic legislation and standards
Page last modified: 25 March 2008
Page published: 1 July 2006