The pros and cons of going organic, grants available, certification and marketing.
Soil Association and Organic Farmers & Growers are the two certification bodies for organic farming. You need to register with one of these in order to trade as an organic farm business, you can then market your produce as organic, and use the certified logos.
In order to join these schemes please be aware there is quite a volume of paperwork to complete, and strategies to have in place before you are accepted to a certification group. However all the work is worthwhile, as once you have completed the initial batch of applications, you then only need to maintain and update records. Many of these are records you should keep any way as part of your general farming and cross complaince regime.
Contact organic marketing cooperatives and other suppliers who trade as organic, this will give you a good idea of the prices you can expect, and what marketing methods are most popular. You may even find an outlet for your produce.
Dairy Organic Fast Track Scheme: This is offered through Organic Farmers & Growers. You need to have started managing your herd organically 9 months before you intend to produce organic milk, and feeding using OF&G standards 6 months before you start producing organic milk.
As regards the land the dairy cows are on, and the land you use for forage – the conversion to organic must be made the spring before your first cut of silage is taken. The start of the conversion should be on or after turnout date.
You need to complete feed plans showing that your herd is being converted onto organic feed. Many farmers will use Promar, or other specific dairy consultants for this information.
It is also a good idea to join an organic marketing group for milk, such as OMSCO (Organic Milk Suppliers Cooperative). This gives you security of sales, and the associated market power of a cooperative group.
Organic Entry Level Stewardship: This scheme pays a minimum of £60 per ha, per year over the whole organic holding. You need to be registered with a certification body before getting access to this funding. If you are still in your conversion period, you will receive an additional £175 per ha, per year for improved land being converted.
In order to gain OELS funding you need to gain 60 points per ha across your organic land. This might seem impossible, however, under the organic version of ELS the points available for options have been significantly increased, making it just as easy to qualify.
Please contact us for more information on this scheme.