Farmers who are converting or who plan to convert to Organic Farming can now apply for support from the Welsh Government, Alun Davies, the Deputy Minister for Agriculture has announced.

The application window for the Organic Farming Conversion Scheme (OFCS) will be open between Monday 3 October 2011 and Friday 4 November 2011 and is available to those farmers who began, or will begin, conversion to organic between 2 January 2011 and 1 January 2012. Applications must include an organic conversion plan.

Priority will be given to farmers who are converting land used for arable production in 2011, as declared on the 2011 Single Application Form, followed by existing organic scheme agreement holders wishing to bring in additional land for conversion. Other applications meeting the minimum area eligibility requirements will then be considered on the basis of smallest area first.

The Deputy Minister said: “Organic farming is growing in Wales with more and more farmers recognising the added value that organic food can bring and responding to the increased demand from consumers. Many people who buy organic food also want to buy local food so I am pleased to continue to support farmers to convert to organic farming and to help them satisfy the demands of Welsh consumers.”

The minimum eligible area to be entered into the scheme is 3 hectares. Applicants must have commenced organic conversion on or after 2 January 2011 and no later than 1 January 2012.

Details of the application process and up-to-date scheme information will be made available on the Organic Farming Scheme page of the Welsh Government website or from Divisional Offices and Organic Centre Wales.

Case Study One farm that has benefitted from the OFCS is Trealy Farm in Mitchel Troy Monmouthshire, a traditional upland farm of about 60 Ha, carrying 140 sheep and 7 cattle and a few pigs, run by Ruth Tudor. Ruth also runs the award wining Trealy Farm Charcuterie, which sources meat from small scale local farms, including (but not exclusively) organic producers.

The farm started conversion in November 2009, and took advantage of the Organic Farming Conversion Scheme 2010. Now nearing the end of the conversion period, Ruth reflected on her experiences over the last two years: ‘Organic management has made us think much more carefully about our system - especially about how we manage our grass and forage crops – and that has made us better farmers. Although we don’t expect too much of a premium for our lambs, more efficient use of our resources has meant we have been able to reduce our input costs to practically nothing, and that has helped the business. We also expanded our cattle numbers so we could implement a mixed grazing system.

‘Since starting conversion, I feel I have become more part of a community. We have benefitted from advice through the Organic Conversion Information Service when were considering entering conversion, and are members of FWAG who really support us in the way we farm.

‘Support from the OFCS was a key factor in our decision to convert – I don’t think we would have gone ahead without it. I think it is so important the Welsh Government supports sustainable systems like organic farming, that promote biodiversity, mitigate climate change and produce high quality food’.

OCW is the national resource for consumers, farmers and policy makers committed to more sustainable food and farming in Wales. Based at Aberystwyth University and run by a partnership consisting of the ADAS, the Organic Research Centre Elm Farm, and the Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences at Aberystwyth University. See