Free advice for farmers considering organic switch

English farmers are to be offered impartial advice on whether converting to organic production is right for them.

This week Government announced a new information and advisory service to explain the principles and practicalities of organic production which will be delivered by environment quango Natural England.

While a number of organisations already offer information on organic farming, these have traditionally been those involved in the sector already and may have difficulty convincing conventional farmers of their impartiality.

The new Defra-backed service differs in that it seeks to offer unbiased, factual information on the mechanics of organics rather than more subjective ethical arguments.

The service will comprise of a national helpline, a dedicated website and, if farmers show an interest beyond receiving initial advice, on-farm visits where appropriate to weigh up their individual needs.

Natural England will work with the Organic Research Centre to deliver the service.

Lord Rooker, Minister for sustainable food and farming said: "As a Government we are keen to encourage English farmers to convert and adopt more sustainable production practices and take advantage of the wide range of opportunities offered by rising demand for organic food.

"The Organic Research Centre has an established record of providing the agriculture sector with high quality impartial conversion information and advice and we are delighted to be collaborating with them and NE in the delivery of this new service." Sir Martin Doughty, Chair of Natural England, said:

"This is good news for farmers wishing to convert to organic production and subsequently good news for wildlife."

Sam Bond




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