10 May 2002

ORGANIC

FARMING

SCHEME

England and Wales

ANNUAL payments are available through the OFS to help compensate farmers for the lower yields they generally achieve during the two-year conversion period before any produce can be marketed as organic.

Agreements

Annual payments are made on the area being converted for five years. It is possible to enter land into the scheme that will be converted at a later date, but all land included on an application must be converted within five years.

Before submitting an application it is necessary to have registered the land with an approved sector body and agreed a conversion plan. It is possible to apply for the OFS up to six months after registering with a sector body.

Other agri-environmental grants such as ESAs and Countryside Stewardship payments can still be claimed (but possibly at reduced rates). Arable Area Payments (AAPS) can be claimed concurrently with the OFS, and land can be set-aside while in conversion.

Payment rates (£/ha)

&#8226 AAPS eligible land – 225 (year 1); 135 (year 2); 50 (year 3); 20 (year 4); 20 (year 5); 450 (total).

&#8226 Improved grassland – 175 (year 1); 105 (year 2); 40 (year 3); 15 (year 4); 15 (year 5); 350 (total).

&#8226 Unimproved grassland and rough grazing – 25 (year 1); 10 (year 2); 5 (year 3); 5 (year 4);

5 (year 5); 50 (total).

&#8226 Lump sums of £300 (year 1); £200 (year 2); and £100 (year 3) are also provided to help towards conversion costs.

Applications

England: DEFRA Rural Development Service

(see last page for contact details).

Wales: NAWAD Divisional Offices (see last page for contact details).

Other sources of advice

&#8226 Organic Farmers and Growers, Churchgate House, 50 High Street, Soham, Ely, Cambs, CB7 5HF. Tel: 01353-720250.

&#8226 Organic Food Federation, The Tithe House, Peaseland Green, Elsing, East Dereham, Norfolk, NR20 3DY. Tel: 01362-637314.

&#8226 Scottish Organic Producers Organisation, Milton of Cambus Farm, Doune, Perthshire, FK16 6HG. Tel: 01786-841657.

&#8226 Soil Association Certification Ltd, Bristol House, 40-56 Victoria Street, Bristol, BS1 6BY. Tel: 0117-929 0661.

&#8226 Organic Conversion Information Service.

Tel: 0117-922 7707.

&#8226 The Organic Advisory Service, Elm Farm Research Council, Hansted Marshall, Near Newbury, Berkshire RG15 0HR. Tel: 01488-58298.

At Chris Peacheys Donkeywell Farm, Quenington, Glos, all

but 80ha (200 acres) of the 320ha (790 acres) has been converted to organic. He says he would have converted even

if there hadnt been a grant because of the poor economics

of conventional cereal-growing in the Cotswolds.

Tir Gofal has taken over from the pilot scheme Tir Cymen. It is an integrated all-Wales agri-environmental scheme administered by the Countryside Council for Wales. The scheme is run on a whole-farm basis and aims to conserve wildlife and habitats, create new habitats, protect landscapes (including historic features) and promote public access. Agreements are for 10 years, with a break possible after five years.

Mandatory land management

The whole of the farm area has to be entered into an agreement. Payments of £5-25/ha are made for following management rules to protect the land. Additional payments of £10-180/ha are available for specific habitat types like woodland and scrub, heathland, grassland, wetland and coastal land.

Optional land management

Grants are available for farmers who undertake additional management activities such as restoring hedgerows and walls, managing arable or grassland in a less intensive way, creating new habitats or establishing footpaths, bridleways or cycle paths.

Capital grants

There are various lump sump grants to enable work to be carried out that complements the land management objectives above.

Applications

Countryside Council for Wales, Plas Penrhos, Penrhos Road, Bangor, Gwynedd LL57 2LQ

Tel: 01248-385500

NAWAD Divisional offices (see last page for contact details).