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Organic Research Centre 11th Annual Conference – It Didn’t Disappoint

Despite working within the Organic Industry for 9 years, this was my first time attending the event and as a Guest Speaker! I was there to speak about our companies involvement with Organic Plant Breeders, Organic Seed and the trials work we are doing. For those of you who would like to read my presentation, you can find it under the News section of our Website originally title ‘Organic Plant Breeding’.

The 2 day event was extremely well organised with inspirational, thought provoking and realistic speakers (I’m not including myself in that!). Workshops were split into 5 strands

1. Business/Markets
2. Arable
3. Livestock
4. Horticulture
5. Policy

With an interest in supply chains, I attended the workshops on Market Overview and Challenges of Securing Organic Supply, diversifying Arable systems (Including Spelt, Einkorn, Naked Barley) and for good measures, a surgery on Organic Weeds.

The consensus is one of positivity and opportunity. Yes we have an issue with Brexit and how farming will be supported, but it also gives the organic industry a chance to be heard and to be involved in policy making.

The Soil Association showed an increase in the organic market for the 5th year running and The Waitrose Farming Partnership spoke about the need to encourage more farmers to convert to meet demand. The industry desperately needs more domestic production of UK organic grain so that it is less dependent on imports. BUT how is this going to be achieved, what is the Organic Industry doing to talk to farmers? My idea would be to have an industry tent at Cereals where businesses from every part of the organic sector can be involved and talk to interested farmers. The industry needs to stop worrying about being laughed at and be proud of its values and beliefs. It does not need to be apologetic. We cannot expect farmers to come to us, we must go to them. And Hey, with all the ‘big boys’ slashing their budgets and leaving cereals, I’m sure there is a deal to be had!