Richard Jacobs

Date Published: 03/12/2013

Tributes have been paid to Richard Jacobs, the chief executive of national certification body, Organic Farmers & Growers, who has died at the age of 50.

Organic Farmers & Growers' chief executive, Richard Jacobs
Organic Farmers & Growers’ chief executive, Richard Jacobs

Richard (widely known as ‘Jake’) was well known and respected throughout the organic food and farming sector. He passed away peacefully in the early hours of Sunday morning, following an illness.

He leaves his wife, Amanda, two stepchildren, five children and their mother, Stephanie, his sister, Kas, and his brother, Steven, who is the research and development officer at OF&G.

Richard Thompson, chairman of Organic Farmers & Growers, said: “Richard Jacobs was both chief executive and a friend to everyone at OF&G. His untimely death is sad beyond words and our thoughts are very much with Amanda, his children and his brother – our colleague – Steven, at this time.

“Richard had spent his career in the organic sector and was widely known as a forward-thinking and practical, yet modest man. He typified OF&G, being focused on getting things done with hard work and integrity and standing firmly by his principles. I know that there will be very many people saddened by this news. I speak for myself, all of the staff and my fellow directors when I say that we will miss him greatly.”

Richard Jacobs began his career at Organic Farmers & Growers in 2000, rising rapidly through the ranks and taking over its leadership by 2004. Prior to this he was the farm manager at the Organic Research Centre, Elm Farm, and before that had worked in a variety of roles in organic farming and the sale and manufacture of organic foods.

As chief executive of OF&G he also served on the government’s Advisory Committee on Organic Standards (ACOS), which existed to advise ministers on matters relating to the organic sector, and chaired the UK Organic Certifiers Group, which brings together all of the country’s organic control bodies. He was also a trained auditor and animal welfare assessor.

Richard was a clear advocate for the wider organic sector, willing to step-up and face the media whenever it was required, usually at times when the industry was under fire or otherwise facing negative news. He appeared on BBC Breakfast News and ITV News, among others, and was often called on for comment by BBC Radio 4’s flagship agriculture programme, Farming Today, always presenting a voice of logic and reason. He won plaudits in the sector for his common sense approach to relations between organic and non-organic agriculture.

Certification and compliance manager, Stephen Clarkson, has taken on day-to-day management of the company.

  • Richard’s funeral will be held at 3pm on Tuesday, December 10, at Telford Crematorium. The family has requested no flowers, but any donations for Severn Hospice would be welcomed.