EIP falls short in addressing biodiversity decline

1st February 2023

OF&G (Organic Farmers & Growers) welcomes the new Environmental Improvement Plan (EIP), but argue that policy would be strengthened by further encouragement of organic farming to deliver against the goals set out by Defra.

Roger Kerr, chief executive of OF&G believes the government’s pledge to support up to 80% of landowners and farmers in adopting nature friendly farming practices on at least 10-15% of their land by 2030 through Environmental Land Management policies has a natural affinity with the proven benefits which organic systems already contribute.

“In the recently published Prospectus for the Environmental Land Management we have been presented with a ‘pick-and-mix’ proposal containing 280 options that farmers can choose from,” says Mr Kerr. “While there are many opportunities that are potentially good for organic farmers, it does not go far enough to support organic farming as a method of protecting the nation’s £1.8 trillion of natural capital.

“Organic farming is in tune with the ambition of the EIP, however there is no coherent encouragement of organic farming as a way to help deliver Defra’s 10 goals which are all expected to contribute to the “Apex Goal: Thriving plants and wildlife”.

While Defra has stated that wildlife habitats equivalent to the size of Dorset have already been restored. This constitutes just 2% of the total area of England and OF&G ask whether 1,000 square miles of wildlife habitat is really the end point of our country’s environmental progress when the government has promised 500,000?

“Rishi Sunak’s says that ‘protecting that environment is an unequivocal moral good, but it is also fundamental to our health and prosperity’. And although the EIP represents progress - it is not enough to meet the ambition outlined in the PM’s foreword to the plan,” continues Mr Kerr.

OF&G highlight the recent report published by the Nature Friendly Farming Network ‘Consensus on Food, Farming and Nature’ which demonstrates how organic and agroecological farming can help to address climate and biodiversity challenges.

“Organic has shown that it can produce the transformation necessary, and Defra must reflect that within agricultural policy by openly supporting organic farming and so capitalise on the opportunity that organic represents,” concludes Mr Kerr.