With the signs that the organic market is beginning to stabilise following the recession and the proposed inclusion of organic farming as a greening option under CAP reform, there are reasons to think again about the potential of converting to organic farming.
Converting to organic production can be a complex process that can often benefit from outside advice. The provision of such advice has been central to the activities of ORC since its beginning. In 1996 the government provided funds for the Organic Conversion Information Service (OCIS) to be launched in England. The service was delivered by ORC until the service was closed in March 2011.
A similar service in Wales led by Organic Centre Wales was delivered jointly by ADAS Wales and ORC until it too closed in December 2011, although unlike the English provision there is a possibility that an OCIS-like service could be re-introduced.
In Scotland and Northern Ireland, conversion advice is available from Scottish Agricultural College and Greenmount College respectively.
Conversion planning and advice aims to help farmers and land managers consider the practical, environmental and business implications of converting their business to organic production.
From April 2012, following its merger with IOTA, ORC no longer provides direct one to one advice on converting to organic methods but instead recommends producers to use IOTA accredited organic advisors in the UK and Ireland. Many include conversion planning among their services and can be contacted using the details provided.
Further information on conversion and planning data can be found in the Organic Farm Management Handbook available from ORC.