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Event plans to de-mystify organic arable

Date Published: 09/04/2008

With organic arable crops in critically short supply a leading organic certifier has announced a major event to focus on the challenges and rewards to farmers of moving into the sector.

Organic Farmers & Growers (OF&G), with the support of Abacus Organic Associates, is aiming to de-mystify organics for farmers who are interested but uncertain about the process and the benefits of converting some or all of their arable land.

Already a number of big name companies have backed the event, titled ‘Contemplating Conversion’, which is to be held near Shrewsbury, Shropshire, on June 26. To-date these include the HGCA, Savills, Triodos Bank and Greenvale AP, Natural England and Norton Organic Grain.

Speakers and break-out groups on the day will focus on the realities of organic conversion as well as the positive state of the market for organic crops and subsidy payments available.

OF&G Chief Executive, Richard Jacobs, explained: “We are not producing anywhere near enough organic arable crops in this country to meet the demand and this is, of course, having severe effects on the price and availability of animal feed and raw material for food processors.

“Our aim with this day is to bring together people who can explain organic arable as it is and demonstrate how the market is currently working to anyone who has contemplated organic as an option for their business. We’re not evangelists and we don’t look down in any way on our conventional counterparts. This will be a ‘warts-and-all’, practical look at turning to organic arable production.

“Our speakers will be people who really know their topics and we hope to attract as many non-organic farmers as possible for what should be a very useful day.”

Confirmed speakers so far include: Andrew Charlton, Farmers Weekly columnist and organic arable farmer; Stephen Briggs of Abacus Organic Associates; Dr Debbie Sparkes, Assistant Professor in Agronomy at the University of Nottingham; Keith Preston, Agro-Business Advisor at Savills; Nigel Gossett, of Norton Organic Grain; Matt Heaton, Natural England.

An organic lunch will be provided, as well as refreshments throughout the day. The venue is Great Berwick Farm, Berwick, Shrewsbury, Shropshire. Tickets are free, with an organic lunch available for a subsidised £5, but should be booked in advance.

Contact Steven Jacobs, Development Officer, at OF&G for more information on 01743 440512 or email steven.jacobs@organicfarmers.org.uk.