The complexities of how the new Environmental Land Management Scheme (ELMS) will impact upon organic farmers was discussed at the English Organic Forum (EOF) meeting on 31st Jan. Whilst the new Agricultural Bill looks as if it will be supportive of organic producers the devil, as ever, is in the detail.
The question posed was "How should organic farmers be supported?" Should we have conversion and maintenance payments as under the old Organic Entry Level Scheme or should we be able to have access to all the proscriptions that will be introduced under ELMS? There is a difference between how these different payments will be calculated which will affect the likely benefits organic farmers will receive.
OELS payments were funded upon the basis of "income foregone" whilst the ELMS will make payments based upon the public goods delivered by the landowner.
We know that organic farmers deliver a lot of public goods so surely the latter sounds great, but, what if they payments are only paid on the additional public goods delivered by the scheme? The government could argue that organic farmers already deliver public goods supported by the market paying you a premium on your produce. Therefore, the argue goes, ELMS payments should only reward additional benefits delivered. In this scenario is it acceptable argument because it would not be fair for the small number of consumers that buy organic food support the public goods delivered that benefit the whole population.
You will be pleased to hear that EOF is engaging with Defra to discuss these issues to seek to ensure that organic farmers get the best possible outcome.
In order to understand which approach will be most beneficial EOF need to model and calculate the different scenarios and require funding to undertake this work. Organic Arable were happy to contribute this is of significant importance to our members.
It is this engagement with the organic sector and support of such an initiative that Organic Arable is willing to invest in for the benefit of organic cereal producers and one of the indirect benefits you receive by marketing through Organic Arable.