Government urged to commit to expanding organic food and farming to ensure a Green Brexit
The English Organic Forum, of which Garden Organic is a member, has written to Environment Secretary of State Michael Gove highlighting that the UK is lagging behind its major European competitors in the development of organic food and farming. The letter sets out why stronger support for organic farming would be a significant opportunity to deliver both economic and environmental benefits, consistent with government policy aspirations.
Nic Lampkin, Chair of the English Organic Forum and Director of the Organic Research Centre, says: “The UK needs to up its game and focus more on organic food and farming if it is to reach its ambition for a new agricultural policy that delivers public goods as well as economic benefits. Organic food and farming is closely aligned to the Government’s key aspiration of a ‘Green Brexit’. We would like to have seen more focus on organic, with all its benefits, in the consultation proposals on future food and farming policy.”
Helen Browning, Chief Executive of the Soil Association, said: “A bold government commitment to the UK becoming a world-leader in organic farming would benefit nature, improve animal welfare, and help farm businesses to innovate and thrive – demonstrating that there doesn’t need to be a trade-off between food production and environmental protection. Stronger support for organic, as part of a transition to a sustainable food system, would also show that government is prepared to act on consumer concerns about food provenance, farm animal welfare, and pesticide use.”
The English Organic Forum believes that there is a significant opportunity for the UK to catch up and achieve a share of at least 10% of UK food and farming, given appropriate support. Indeed, meeting more of the current and potential future demand for organic food from domestic production, rather than imports, would deliver economic and environmental benefits.
Ministers have recently confirmed that organic farming and food makes a significant contribution to environmental objectives and consumer choice. Building on this, a positive organic policy would provide space for new environmentally benign and innovative rural strategies that would build on the entrepreneurial vigour shown by many farmers and land managers.
Organic can be a test-bed for a resilient food system that operates within a thriving countryside, enhancing biodiversity and using animal welfare friendly production methods with proven potential to benefit all farmers and consumers.
The letter was sent as Michael Gove prepared to address the Prosperity UK Green Brexit Conference in London on Thursday 15th March.