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Right now there is an opportunity to put organic and agroecological farming methods at the heart of the Agriculture Bill. Find out about the benefits of agroecological farming here.
Together we can ensure farming post-Brexit is healthy, humane and sustainable. Add your voice and email your MP today.
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Last updated: 11th December 2018
Please support organic farming in the Agriculture Bill by supporting amendments N1 and N2 at Report Stage
Dear [insert name of MP]
I’m writing to ask you to support organic and agroecological farming in the Agriculture Bill by supporting amendments N1 and N2 at Report Stage. These amendments will make "establishing and maintaining whole farm agroecological systems" one of the purposes for which farmers receive payments.
“Whole farm agroecological systems” include systems for farming or land management that are designed to produce food while delivering multiple integrated environmental and social benefits. Organic farming is an example of such a system.
Organic farming is all about producing food in harmony with nature. Organic standards severely restrict pesticide use and prohibit the use of herbicides and manufactured fertilisers. As a result, organic farming delivers far more farm wildlife, better soil health, and lower greenhouse gas emissions. These are some of the key ‘public goods’ that the government wants to pay farmers to provide.
Organic farming delivers these environmental benefits at the same time as producing high quality food and sustaining jobs and rural livelihoods. Nurturing the organic sector should be a top priority for the UK’s new agricultural policy.
Scientific evidence of the environmental benefits provided by organic farming is strong. For example:
Organic farms have on average 50% more wildlife than conventional farms
Organic farms have healthier soils with, on average, 44% higher levels of humic acid - the component of soil that stores carbon over the long term.
Organic farming can help tackle water pollution - with 35-65% less nitrogen and no persistent pesticides leached from organic arable fields.
When it comes to animal welfare, organic livestock standards go beyond free range and cover living conditions, feed quality, transport and slaughter. Organic farming prohibits the routine use of antibiotics, whilst optimising animal health and welfare to prevent disease.
Moving to organic farming is an opportunity for UK farmers too. Consumer demand for organic food is increasing steadily, globally and in Britain. The UK organic market is now worth more than ever at £2.2 billion, growing 6% in 2017. Meeting more of the UK organic demand with UK supply would be good news for soil health, wildlife and farmers alike.
If UK farmers, consumers and the environment are to benefit from what organic farming offers, government needs to get behind agroecological systems and the expansion of the organic sector. That should include:
A commitment to support and expand organic farming as part of the Agriculture Bill through amendments N1 and N2 which make “establishing and maintaining whole farm agroecological systems” one of the purposes for which farmers receive payments.
New ‘Organic Public Goods Payments’ for organic farming at the heart of the new Environmental Land Management scheme - alongside generous support to help more farmers through organic conversion.
Ensuring agricultural colleges integrate organic and agroecological farming into mainstream training, alongside bespoke organic courses and new organic apprenticeships.
The UK should aim to get to the top of the European league table of organic food and farming, rather than languishing close to the bottom. This would benefit nature and wildlife, improve animal welfare, and help farm businesses to innovate and thrive.
I hope you agree that organic farming should be better supported and that you will make a strong case for this in debates on the Agriculture Bill and directly to ministers. Thank you for taking the time to consider my views and I look forward to hearing from you.
Why is organic important post-Brexit?
Brexit poses grave risks to food and farming, but it also provides an opportunity to persuade politicians to back a bold vision for the future of food and farming that is healthy, humane and sustainable - with organic at its heart. Currently, UK government support for organic farming is lower than in most other EU countries. Find out more about the benefits of organic farming here.
We’ve been calling on the Government to give food and farming a higher priority than ever before. You can read our 8 Policy Priorities here.
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You can join us as a Soil Association member today and together we will help shape the new Agriculture Bill and secure a sustainable future for our world. Without the generous support of our members we cannot carry out this vital policy work.