The Soil Association has slammed a Government suggestion that organic produce should be marketed as conventional in order to avoid export disruption in a no-deal Brexit.
The advice has been offered as a way to allow organic food to continue to be exported if UK organic certification by the EU ceases to be valid on March 30.
But Helen Browning, the group’s chief executive, branded the proposal ‘frankly unacceptable’ in an open letter to Defra Secretary Michael Gove.
Marketing organic produce as conventional would mean accepting a lower price, threatening farmers’ profitability.
Ms Browning’s letter reads: “As you confirmed to the NFU Conference, in the event of a no-deal Brexit, recognition of UK organic certification by the EU is anticipated to cease overnight.
“The suggestion which has been made that a solution to the situation might be to market these premium and sustainable products as conventionally produced (and priced) is frankly unacceptable and counterproductive to the long term shift you are seeking to make.”
The Soil Association has instead called on the Government to make three specific commitments to organic farmers.
The first is to ensure Ministers ‘explore every avenue’ to prevent any disruption to export trade.
If these attempts to avoid disruption fail, the group has demanded compensation for farmers to help deal with the fallout.
Finally, Ms Browning urged Mr Gove to speed up any agri-environment applications to help with cashflow, and to look at increasing the amount organic farmers receive to ensure they are ‘properly rewarded’ for the public goods they provide.