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11th Annual Organic Producers’ Conference

Date Published: 08/02/2017

The 11th Organic Producers' Conference 2017

The 11th annual Organic Producers’ Conference took place in Birmingham earlier this month (1-2 February). OF&G was there and at the heart of the action, as Steven Jacobs, OF&G business development manager, reports.

The ways the organic sector can successfully rise to the challenge of Brexit and market challenges was the main focus for this year’s annual Organic Producers’ Conference.

Organised by the Organic Research Centre, the two-day event examined the technical and practical challenges and opportunities organic producers face in the coming years.

As well as a focus on the UK’s decision to leave the European Union, conference speakers including Tim Lang, Professor of Food Policy at City University, and Heather Anderson of Whitmuir Farm and Nourish Scotland presented detail on how they saw a realistic vision of the sector’s current state and what it might look like in future.

While they warned of challenges ahead, the speakers argued that taking a collaborative approach both at grass-roots and policy levels would help the sector thrive.

However they warned that the sector does need better recognition and better support, especially with EU negotiations already hotting up.

The rest of the conference saw delegates take part in workshops on subjects ranging from arable and horticulture production including silvo-arable agroforestry, as well as livestock husbandry, strengthening livelihoods, seed saving and how to best work together in the face of all the new risks facing the UK food sector.

As always OF&G was happy to lend its support to the conference, with Stephen Clarkson attending along with Steven Jacobs and chief executive Roger Kerr chairing sessions. Roger also acted as a concluding rapporteur for the two days.

We took part in some excellent discussions, and came away feeling that while we have some serious challenges ahead, the UK organic sector is strong, and has a good story to tell in terms of integrity and transparency, in animal welfare, and research and supply chain coordination.

Presentations from the conference will be available via the Organic Research Centre in due course.