On Wednesday 4th May 2016, The Food GRP held a workshop to discuss the development of organic production. This development can be described by several phases, starting with the pioneers, who about 100 years ago were concerned with the direction that agriculture was taking and saw an opportunity for radical change. The next phase started about 40 years ago when the information and techniques produced by the pioneers were developed into standards and regulatory systems. Many believe that the organic movement is now entering a third phase (referred to as Organic 3.0) where organic production systems are beginning to become part of the ‘mainstream’.
Three speakers were invited to present their thoughts:
- Dr Michael Haedicke, Drake University USA
“Lost in Transition? Obstacles to Organic 3.0 in US Markets and Policy”
- Dr Matt Reed, CCRI, University of Gloucester
- Dr Tom Macmillan, Soil Association
“Organic 3.0 in practice”
Dr Haedicke shared some interesting insights into the differences between US and EU policies on organic production. He showed that in the US organic production is driven by market trends and profitability, with only 0.7% of land being organic. In contrast, EU policy has had a considerable impact, with government subsidies helping to drive production, leading to 6.1% of land being organic.
Dr Reed went on to explore some of the problems encountered by the Organic Movement and how producers might move towards Organic 3.0. He suggested that making organic foods ‘cool’ was not a good mechanism, but rather producers should strive to get organic foods accepted into everyday life.
Finally Dr Macmillan described how the Soil Association is working to progress the Organic Movement, working in collaboration with farmers and researchers to develop and promote improved techniques to make organic farming more profitable and sustainable.