1. NFU Organic Forum and commodity board representatives – the formalised NFU Organic Forum, has a designated representative from each of the NFU’s regions and Wales. The Forum informs NFU policy and articulates the concerns of the organic sector. An organic link with each commodity board ensures that the needs of organic producers are represented across the NFU and fosters cooperation between organic and conventional producers.
The NFU Organic Forum 2018-20 met recently and discussed a wide range of topics, including: the NFU organic strategy, Net Zero, and UK organics in terms of public goods.
2. Standards and certification –the NFU continue to liaise closely with UK certification bodies to help overcome any issues associated with standards and certification. This includes responding to any consultations on proposed changes to standards. The Organic Forum is responsible for the content of any responses, on behalf of NFU members.
3. Lobbying – the NFU continues to lobby UK and EU policymakers to ensure that the needs of NFU’s organic members and the organic sector are met. At an EU level, NFU will continue to represent organic members through the COPA Organic Working Group and other relevant meetings. In the immediate future, this centres on the ongoing renegotiation of EU organic regulations and their implementation at a UK level.
The NFU recently attended a meeting with DEFRA where they reiterated concerns about 3rd country recognition and EU compliance in a no deal situation.
4. Marketing and promotional activity – NFU and the Organic Forum work to ensure that the organic offer is accurately and adequately communicated to consumers. In particular, opportunities to support UK producers whilst also buying organic produce will be highlighted and efforts will be made to use organic produce as a ‘leader’ to engage consumers on wider farming issues.
The NFU is currently looking at opportunities to work with bodies like the Organic Trade Board and AHDB to ensure that consumers better understand organic production and are able to make a better informed choice. Likewise the Organic Forum organises on-farm events for organic and non-organic members.
5. Market information – to make sure members are aware of market opportunities for organic production, the NFU endeavours to provide the latest organic market information and news to members. This involves collating information from a range of sources including the Soil Association, AHDB, the Organic Trade Board, OMSCO and many others.
The NFU has produced an overview of the latest organic market information for members and is looking at the potential to work with an industry consortium to address the lack of organic market information.
6. Advice and guidance – the NFU and the Organic Forum direct members to the correct sources of advice should they wish to convert or need guidance on agricultural production.
The NFU has recently directed several members who are considering entering the organic sector to appropriate sources of advice.
7. Learning and best practise sharing – the NFU make sure to inform the Forum (and the wider membership) of any noteworthy advances or developments in the sector and vice versa. Forum meetings provide an opportunity for external experts to brief members or disseminate best practise and NFU can organise on-farm meetings and study visits, depending on members’ needs and interests. This also provides an opportunity to collaborate with the conventional sector and vice versa, to share best practise.
The NFU is looking at opportunities to foster closer working and collaboration between organic and non-organic members.