AN ORGANIC farming body has expressed its concern that successful organic options are being sidelined by the Government.

The English Organic Forum represents organic sector organisations and businesses in the UK with 3,500 farmers and growers working on 485,000 Ha of organically farmed land.

The body cited the National Trust’s recent work of highlighting the success of organic farming in its recently published ‘farm health check’ report.

However, the English Organic Forum is concerned that, whilst the Government’s ‘public money for public goods’ proposal has many good points, it had not yet specifically recognised the important role that organic farming could play in delivering public goods or the vital importance of whole farming systems.

The proposal is a replacement for the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and is planned to reward farmers for actions that benefit the environment, such as tree planting, floods management and habitat restoration, rather than for the amount of land under ownership.

A case in point for the advantages and importance of organic farming is the Wimpole Estate Home Farm, near Cambridge, which is licensed under the English Organic Forum organic certification and is the only farm the National Trust manages directly and has been organic for 12 years.

In that time there has been: a doubling in numbers of breeding pairs of skylarks and linnets in six years; a150 per cent increase in Hymenoptera (wasps, bees, ants); a total carbon balance of -2,260 tonnes of CO2 per year achieved through the amount of organic matter in the soil which soaks up carbon, the number of trees and grown out hedges.

Wimpole is a mixed farming, predominantly arable system, that integrates cereals with fertility building clover leys, green manures and livestock. Farm manager, Callum Weir, believes their results provide a good indicator of a healthy ecosystem. “Our holistic approach to farming at Wimpole is working. We want to farm sustainably at the same time as being a truly viable business. It’s fantastic to see how nature friendly farming and a profitable farm business, can go hand in hand.”

Reporting on the environmental and commercial success of Wimpole, Mark Harold, National Trust director of land and nature said; “This is a story of hope and optimism – and the Government’s forthcoming ‘environmental land management scheme’ will be crucial to replicating this across the farming industry, as will the new Agriculture Bill in prioritising government support for this scheme.”

Harold’s comments were supported by John Pawsey, chair of the NFU Organic Forum. He said: “I hope the Government will take note of these impressive results and put in place a framework which allows organic farming to flourish in this country as it is elsewhere in the world.”