BREXIT and the development of a new Domestic Agricultural Policy fpr the UK offers a chance to address the 'systematic failures' in its food production industry – and that should mean greater recognition and reward for organic farming.

That was the call this week from leading organic certifier Organic Farmers and Growers, which blamed the current food system for a decline in soils, biodiversity and water quality.

OFG highlighted three key demands for a new DAP – organic agriculture should be recognised as a distinct farming system, offering multiple, simultaneous benefits; the delivery of these public goods should be recognised and adequately rewarded with costs not passed onto organic consumers; and there should be a 20% increase in agro-ecological farmland across the UK with organic representing half of that total.

These suggestions for a new approach to UK agriculture are contained in an OFG policy paper launched this week – 'An Organic Systems Approach to the Provision of Public Goods' – which it hopes will help shape the current debate about the future of food and farming.

The paper, An Organic Systems Approach to the Provision of Public Goods, maintains that by combining modern techniques with traditional farming practices, organic farming can offers numerous benefits to the public, including protecting the long-term fertility of soils, protecting biodiversity, preserving water quality and maintaining high animal welfare, all whilst producing high quality, safe and nutritious foods.

However by preserving these public goods, the report suggest that organic farming systems have so far had to bear much of the cost, as seen by the premium shoppers have to pay for organic food.

It then argues that, if organic production was properly rewarded for the multiple public goods it offers, organic food would become more affordable and accessible to all.

OF and G chief executive Roger Kerr said: “Defra minister Michael Gove has said that he wants to embrace change in order to secure a more sustainable future for the environment, which will include support for those who farm in the most sustainable way.

"'Public money for public good’ is a core principle guiding reform of UK agricultural support policy, and this is the perfect opportunity for government to recognise the role organic can play in delivering those goods.

“We can’t put clean water, biodiversity and climate challenges on hold while we sort out soils, any more than we can solve biodiversity issues but ignore challenges," he said. “We need a systematic, regenerative approach to food production which addresses all of these challenges, and recognises and values those who are embracing that approach.”