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Organic farmers urged to buy British

Date Published: 13/11/2008

It’s not a call you hear very often because usually we’re all busy telling consumers to ‘Buy British’. But we’ve just had the following in from marketing company, Organic Arable, and it makes sense!

Check where your feeds are coming from

With the economy slowing there are calls from various quarters to keep money within the UK economy.  The organic sector should do likewise as it faces a less certain future with demand slowing – even falling in certain sectors – and the continued economic downturn places pressure on consumer spending.

Having been reliant upon imported arable crops to feed organic livestock through the recent rapid expansion in the sector we now find ourselves facing a situation whereby UK crops may struggle to find a market whilst imported supplies continue to be sold in the UK.  Some buyers we know have sourced all their requirements from overseas and so have effectively taken themselves out of reach of UK producers and others continue to use imported supplies at a time whilst UK arable farmers are seeking to sell their grain.

Perhaps now more it is more important than any time to keep money within the organic sector within the UK and sending money generated by UK organic livestock produce overseas seems absurd when it could be retained within the UK economy.  To this end organic arable is asking that UK organic livestock producers to – “Check where your feeds are coming from”.

Livestock farmers have been well supported by most of the multiple retailers who have sought to promote the fact they source UK supplies of meat and milk and now it is the turn of the livestock sector to take similar care about where their feedstuffs are sourced.  It is not that we want to exclude imported supplies but rather that we see them as a supplement too – rather than a substitute for – those grown in the UK.

We are asking individual livestock producers and the livestock producer groups to please ask feed suppliers to ensure they are using UK sourced products where possible to ensure that we do use imported supplies unless they are certain that UK supplies aren’t available.

At organic arable we are working hard to ensure that buyers know what is available from the UK and it is up to the livestock sector to put pressure on their feed suppliers to ensure that they are buying as much UK product as they can.

We would also ask ACOS to instruct Defra to publish data relating to  the volumes of imported supplies being brought into the country such that a far clearer assessment of the role and need for imports within the UK organic sector can be made at a time when the arable area has increased and the demand is slowing.

For any farmers seeking to buy cereals or pulses organic arable would be happy to supply direct and can guarantee you will be sold UK grown produce and would ask you to contact Andrew Trump on 08456 521 706 to discuss your requirements.

We hope you are able to support our campaign and can promote this idea to your members in order to support the UK organic sector as a whole.

We’ve talked a lot here at OF&G Towers (okay, we actually have no towers) over the years about the risks of losing markets to the Continent when home supply fails. We could now be facing the consequences of just that – farmers and feed mills were forced to turn to overseas supply, and now we have the battle to get them back.

Let’s hope they heed the call, because if farmers don’t what hope of getting shoppers to take notice?