Deadline looms fast for organic applications to the WAG

Date Published: 20/03/2008

Welsh farmers looking to take their land or livestock into the organic system must act immediately if they are to receive WAG Organic Farming Scheme payments.

That is the stark warning from leading organic certification body, Organic Farmers & Growers (OF&G).

Two key deadlines are looming for those looking to convert to organic farming. Their land and livestock must be in-conversion to organic before May 15 this year and farmers must be able to produce a certificate from their organic certifier by no later than July 31.

Achieving both of these targets will allow farmers to apply for the organic grant as part of their Single Application Form. Anyone who misses the deadline also faces a double-whammy; by the time they apply next year their operation will by then be in its second year of conversion to organic – thereby removing entitlement to the first year’s grant payment.

Stephen Clarkson, Certification Manager at OF&G, explained: “The difference between organic and other areas of the SAF system is that farmers are reliant upon their certifier being able to process applications in time.

“At Organic Farmers & Growers we’ll be pulling out all the stops to speed up the process, but the reality is that it unavoidably takes some time, not least because we have to satisfy ourselves on many points before we can approve conversion to begin. Then we have to get an inspector onto the farm and assess their subsequent report before we can issue a certificate.

“I can see this going very close to the wire for many people and so we urge them to call us straight away if they want to begin conversion to organic and tap into the opportunities it presents for their businesses.”

Stephen added that, while the SAF dates were generally known, the final confirmation of the deadlines was quite late in coming, leading to a potential last-minute rush.

The simple message is: start now if you hope to get an Organic Farming Scheme grant this year!