21 November 2019
Agroforestry event in Melton Mowbray

A Win Win for Farm productivity and the Environment

3 December 2019
iSAGE training course and workshop

Innovations to improve sustainability in the sheep and goat sector

4 November 2019
Calling all UK Sheep farmers!

Survey on breed distribution and management

31 October 2019
Proceedings of the European Conference on Crop Diversification

Abstracts, presentations and workshop reports now online

21 March 2019
In adversity, what are farmers doing to be more resilient?

Opportunities, barriers and constraints in organic techniques helping to improve the sustainability of conventional farming

CAP Reform: Latest developments and Defra implementation plans

The CAP Reform plans are slowly taking shape, with budgetary decisions affecting possible future options. Implementation may however be delayed until 2015 and uncertainty surrounds the transition process. This session will provide an update on recent CAP reform developments and examine the implications for UK organic support.
Nic Lampkin (ORC): Chair

Session summary

The proposed CAP-reform appears to only maintain the status-quo, adds even more confusion and provides less support for organic. Christopher Stopes said the government needs to think bio-economy not biotechnology. The reform needs to address the double funding question – what is covered under greening or pillar 2?  Right now rural socio-economic growth, like the employment of additional labour on organic farms is not event considered.

Nic Lampkin put forward a proposal for common organic sector development principles.

  1. Specifying a strategic vision for the development of organic farming
  2. Recognising the dual societal role of organic farming
  3. Contributing to fair competition between producers in different Member States
  4. Acknowledging that premium prices and the market benefits of certification reflect the entrepreneurial activities of farmers
  5. Ensuring continuity of organic land management schemes
  6. Acknowledging the role of innovation, knowledge exchange and advisory programmes
  7. Exploiting synergies between policy measures
  8. Engaging stakeholders

Action Points

The discussion that followed the presentations brought out the following points:

  • More people to join IFOAM EU
  • UK should align with other Member States
  • Organic orgaisatoins should unite together and then engage with ministers & DEFRA

Speaker presentations and abstracts

Christopher Stopes (IFOAM EU Group): CAP reform from the perspective of EU organic/environmental movements (305KB)

With 27 member states, a diverse organic sector and many environmental and civil society NGOs, there is no single European organic perspective on CAP reform. Each country has its own priorities. The enthusiasm for exploiting the organic opportunity varies amongst governments. ARC 2020, a coalition of civil society organisations and environmental NGOs such as Birdlife, EEB, FOE, PAN and WWF are all working closely with the IFOAM EU Group to lobby for real greening of Pillar 1 and for mandatory inclusion of organic under Pillar 2 Rural Development Programmes. Making the CAP more joined-up, linking Horizon 2020, the European Innovation Strategy and the Cohesion Policy is a priority; multi-functional organic systems could contribute to success. Member states’ Partnership Agreements should outline how synergy is to be achieved. They will provide the framework for enabling organic food and farming to flourish. Denmark includes organic as part of their strategy for green growth and to ensure water quality; in Austria organic in CAP is a priority under their organic action plan. In both countries the organic sector is effectively engaged. There are important lessons that the UK could learn from other countries in Europe – are we doing as well as we could?

Rob Macklin (National Trust): Implementing CAP reform in the UK – key issues

This presentation was not be made due to illness, but the abstract and report mentioned is still relevant.

The CAP has a huge influence on the economic viability of the National Trust’s farmed estate spanning 200,000 ha across England, Wales and Northern Ireland. 90% of this land is farmed by 1,500 tenants. The remaining 20,000 ha is managed in-hand by staff and graziers across 350 separate sites.

The principle of greening measures across Europe is welcome, but in reality the specific measures of permanent pasture, crop diversity and ecological focus areas for pillar 1 are unlikely to deliver substantial environmental change in the UK as farming practices here already deliver most of the criteria demanded.

For the majority of our farms the key concern is not the greening measures in pillar 1, but the future availability of pillar 2 rural development funds for agri-environment schemes. National Trust has commissioned a report with Co-operative Farms to recommend opportunities for an evolved agri-environment scheme in England, ‘ELS+’ that could succeed the current ELS and upland ELS schemes and potentially deliver greater public benefit and improved environmental outcomes. Our joint report, Land Stewardship in England Post-2013 was launched in mid-December has already been shared with government agencies, politicians, farming and environmental organisations as a positive contribution to CAP reform in the UK.

Kevin Ruston (Defra): Defra’s preliminary plans for organic support in England after CAP reform (760KB)

Defra leads across Government on the European Commission’s proposals for reform of the Common Agricultural Policy post 2013. This includes the Commission’s draft Rural Development Regulation and the draft Direct Payments Regulation. The UK’s Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE), which is being reviewed as part of the UK’s approach to CAP reform, is the main mechanism through which financial support is provided in England to a range of agri-environment and land management schemes, including Organic Entry Level Stewardship (OELS). The Government has made clear its view that there should be a smaller, simpler and greener CAP. EU Budget negotiations are also ongoing. Against this backdrop, and matters such as the Commission’s proposals for Greening of Pillar 1 of CAP, Defra is considering how future support for organic farmers might be structured. This session will review the evidence base on OELS and report on emerging options and ideas for supporting organic farming approaches in England.