Major organic arable farming event announced

Date Published: 12/02/2009

Plans have been unveiled for a second national organic arable conference following the stunning success of the inaugural event.

A captivated audience at last year's event
A captivated audience at last year's event

Leading certification body, Organic Farmers & Growers, in association with consultants, Abacus Organic Services, brought together more than 150 farmers and industry experts with the first event in 2008.

Such was the positive reaction, the conference will be repeated in 2009, with the aim of promoting the opportunities in organic arable production to UK farmers and land managers. Demand for home grown organic cereals is high, while supply is short and premium prices are available.

National Organic Cereals 2009 will give farmers the chance to gain practical and realistic advice on the benefits and challenges of turning to organic production – or expanding existing acreage.

The event will be held at John Pawsey’s 1500 acre organic arable unit in Suffolk on, July 9, 2009.

Trial crops have been specifically designed and planted and delegates will be given the opportunity of guided walks to learn about the varieties and ask questions about growing them.

Talks from industry leaders and farming experts will focus on practicalities such as the state of the marketplace, obtaining seeds, managing fertility and dealing with weeds. They will also look seriously at production costs and likely premiums.

Advice clinics will also be held, at no extra cost, to allow potential converts to get face-to-face with the people who can advise, support and supply them.

The HGCA will be repeating its backing for the event, which was last year also supported by BOCM Pauls, ABP, Savills, Triodos Bank, Greenvale AP, Natural England and Norton Organic Grain. Sponsors for this year’s event are currently being finalised and a variety of relevant exhibitors are also expected to attend.

Organic Farmers & Growers Chief Executive, Richard Jacobs, explained: “We are heavily reliant on imports of organic arable crops. For the stability of the market it’s important that we increase UK supply and it’s a great opportunity for land to be put to good, profitable use.

“Our aim is most definitely not to preach or browbeat people into converting. We want to lay out the facts, including the benefits and the challenges, and we think that by doing this forward-thinking farmers and land managers will be able to see the opportunity for themselves.

“An increase in UK organic arable supply would also be good news for our livestock holding, non-arable licensees, so if we can help to bring about that increase everyone wins. We had a great response last year and hope to reach even more people with this year’s event.”

John Pawsey, who will be hosting the event on his land at Shimpling Park Farm, added: “I’m very pleased to offer my support to National Organic Cereals 2009 because it is important to ensure people can make informed decisions about whether organic farming could be for them. We need greater supply of UK organic cereals and for the right people it is a real opportunity.”

Enquiries about exhibiting, sponsorship or attending as a delegate can be obtained from OF&G Development Officer, Steven Jacobs, on 0845 330 5122 or by emailing arable@organicfarmers.org.uk.