The pathway to successful organic conversion

Check the 5 stages below. If you have any questions then contact us.

Quick Links:

Stage 1: Review

Is organic the right choice for your farm?

If you can answer YES to some of these questions, then you could consider organic production:

  • Are you willing to learn new skills and farm in a different way?
  • Could you farm without using chemical fertilisers or pesticides?
  • Can you farm below 2 livestock units per hectare?
  • Are you able to introduce a grass/clover break in to your crop rotation?
  • Is there a source of manure or compost available to you?
  • Are you willing to farm to organic certification standards and be inspected every year?
  • Are you interested in Countryside Stewardship organic conversion or maintenance payments?
  • Are you looking for improved gross margins from organic produce?

Stage 2: Research

You are almost certain to need professional advice.

OASIS provide a comprehensive advice service. Get in touch.

  • Understand the changes that are required to be eligible for organic conversion and certification, speak to your local OASIS adviser and other organic farmers on similar farms, attend OASIS farm walks.
  • Review the Organic Standards that relate to your farming system crops and/or livestock.
  • Organic farming follows principles which are certified to internationally recognised Organic Standards which have been developed in order that producers and consumers have a clear set of rules which define how organic food is produced. This requires a regular 12-18 month farm inspection/audit.
  • Organic standards often require a two year organic conversion period from the last known application of agrochemical on land.

Stage 3: Register your interest with an Organic Control Body

Details of certification and what to do

In the UK Organic Standards enforce current EU Organic Regulations through farm inspection and certification services provided by Organic Control Bodies (OCB’s). These OCB’s are further regulated by UKAS in order to maintain compliance with UK and EU law.

All farm produce and packaged food sold as organic must by law follow the national UK organic standards. To meet these standards farms and food processors must be regularly inspected and certified by one of the UK approved Organic Control Bodies (OCB’s), listed below are some useful links for some of the UK’s Organic Control Bodies:

A full list of the UK’s approved organic control bodies can be found here: Organic certification list of UK approved organic control bodies

As a farmer or food producer you should get in touch with your OCB, for instance Organic Farmers & Growers CIC (OF&G) to request an Information Pack – in the first instance. In registering your interest in Organic Control, OF&G will ask you the type of farm you are running and will send you an Information Pack detailing the key Organic Standards and controls and/or changes which you will be required to adhere to in order to enter your farm into organic conversion.

You will be required to complete the forms detailing your farming operation, infrastructure and production methods alongside developing an Organic Conversion Plan which details which areas of the farm and when each enterprise will be entering organic conversion and certification.

Organic Standards

Currently and subject to the outcome of Brexit, organic production in the UK is controlled by European law which sets out the legal basis under which organic farmers and growers must trade. These regulatory controls can be found here under;

  1. Council Regulation (EC) No 834/2007 of 28 June 2007 on organic production and labelling of organic products and repealing Regulation (EEC) No 2092/91 Link:  EC Regulation Controls
  2. Commission Regulation (EC) No 889/2008 of 5 September 2008 laying down detailed rules for the implementation of Council Regulation (EC) No 834/2007 on organic production and labelling of organic products with regard to organic production, labelling and control. Link: EC Organic Production

Stage 4: Complete an accredited organic farming training course

Organic farming training courses can be found here:

Abacus Agriculture Organic Farming Training

SRUC – Scotland’s Rural College – Organic Farming MSc

Stage 5: Apply for a Rural Grant Scheme

Details of rural grants, their application windows, restrictions and changes:

Brexit Update: Under existing government policy the UK will continue to receive support for rural development grants schemes until formally leaving the European Union (EU). All agri-environment schemes and capital infrastructure grant scheme projects signed for before Brexit will continue to be honoured by the UK Government for the lifetime of those agreements after leaving the EU.

Rural grants scheme are administered by the devolved governments of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Rural Grant application windows may vary, and some schemes are closed, further information can be found here:

England – Countryside Stewardship is open for application from February 2019 onwards

Scotland – information on the Agri-Environment Climate Scheme

Wales – runs an organic rural grant scheme known as Glastir Organic. This scheme is closed at the moment. More information can be found here.

Northern Ireland – runs the Environmental Farming Scheme (EFS)

Organic conversion – how it works

After you have registered your interest with your OCB, you should book your first initial Organic Certification Inspection. You will be contacted by your local Organic Inspector who will arrange a convenient time to visit the farm.

Prior to inspection you should have researched what the Organic Standards require and adjusted your farming system to account for this change, usually meaning a withdrawal from agrochemical use and potentially lower stocking rates.

Your Organic Inspector will then visit the farm and carry out an audit of how compliant with the Organic Standards your farm is. Your Organic Certification Officer will then provide you with a summary of any non-compliances should you not meet the organic standards, with a timeframe for you to correct these.

Once fully compliant, you will enter your initial organic conversion period which is often two years. After your organic conversion period has been succefully carried out you will be issued with your Organic Certificate detailing the organic crops and livestock being produced on the farm – at this point you can sell farm produce as fully organic. Throughout your time under organic certification expect to be inspected annually.