ARCHIVE: England Rural Development Programme

The Organic Farming Scheme (OFS)

The demand for food produced organically has increased greatly in recent years. In simple terms, organic farming is a system which: avoids artificial fertilisers and chemical pesticides; emphasises the role of crop rotation in helping maintain soil fertility and to combat pest and disease problems; requires the use of fertility-building crops; and uses natural fertilisers such as animal manures.

One of the general principles of organic farming is to sustain the quality of the soil by maximising the natural biological processes that take place within it. Animals on organic farms are kept in a welfare-friendly manner and in ways which seek to avoid the use of conventional medicines and other treatments.

The aim of the OFS is to encourage the expansion of organic production. Under the scheme, farmers moving from conventional to organic farming methods receive financial help during the conversion process. The scheme is being continued and expanded under the Programme.

Any agricultural land not already in organic production is eligible for payments under the OFS. Applicants have to submit a conversion plan with their application and, if approved, enter into a binding undertaking for which they receive aid over a five year period.

Participants in the scheme must undertake certain environmental management operations. They must also register as an organic producer, or a producer in conversion, with an approved organic sector body.

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