Last chance for organic conversion payments in Northern Ireland before Brexit – how the Soil Association can support farmers
20 August 2018
Financial support is on offer to Northern Irish farmers and landowners converting to organic in what is the last opportunity to apply for the Environmental Farming Scheme before Brexit.
The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) scheme’s funding application window opens for applications today (Monday 20 August) and will close on Friday 21 September 2018.
Farmers and landowners with a DAERA category one or two Business ID and at least three hectares of land that are eligible for Basic Payment are able to apply.
Liz Bowles, Head of Farming at the Soil Association, said: “This is a really good time to convert to organic. The launch of the government’s 25 Year Environment Plan has confirmed what we’ve been hearing from Michael Gove for some time – that there is going to be a renewed focus on preserving and enhancing our environment, with a commitment to protecting our soils.
“Farming is going to need to play an integral role in achieving this and the fundamental principles of organic – enhancing soil health, working with ecosystems, and caring for the environment – are wholly in line with the ambitions being set out by government.
“We also know that the public demand is there for organic produce in many parts of the world. People are becoming ever more aware of how their food is produced and we are now in our sixth consecutive year of market growth for organic in the UK. In 2017 we saw sales from our Northern Irish organic licensees rise significantly - with a 65 per cent increase for fresh produce licensees and a 46 per cent rise for meat and poultry licensees - so there are good opportunities for farmers who want to meet that rising demand.”
Soil Association Certification certifies organic farmers, offering a comprehensive and competitive support package that can assist farmers through their conversion period.
The Soil Association Certification business support package includes:
• A dedicated Certification Officer, offering practical and proficient support throughout the life of your certification.
• Use of the UK’s most widely recognised organic symbol, used on more than 70% of UK organic products.
• Supply chain support, including free access to the Food for Life supplier scheme.
• Discounts for farming programmes such as Innovative Farmers.
• Free marketing support for key organic campaigns, such as Organic September.
• Support from our policy teams, who campaign for farmers on important issues, directly to Government.
Any farmer thinking about converting to organic can find out more about organic certification and conversion at www.soilassociation.org/certification.
Conversion payment information for farmers in Northern Ireland can also be found here.