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Conversion to and Maintenance of Organic Farming

Option closed to new applications

Organic farming seeks to work with natural processes using methods which are designed to achieve a sustainable production system with limited use of external inputs. These options provide support to land managers to use organic farming methods and to encourage the expansion of organic production in Scotland in order to deliver environmental benefits.

There are two further Sub-Options under this Option:

  • Organic conversion Option - land based payments to help farmers to convert to organic farming. There is also assistance towards capital items required for organic conversion
  • Organic maintenance Option - land based payments to help existing organic farmers to continue farming organically

You should consider carefully the financial implications for your business of going organic and you may need training if your enterprise is going to succeed. SAC provide training, advice and information regarding organic farming, further information can be obtained from the SAC helpline on 01224 711072 or http://www.sruc.ac.uk/info/120157/organic_farming.

Information can also be obtained from Organic Certification Bodies.

What will this achieve

Organic farming plays a valuable role in helping to protect and enhance the environment as well as assisting producers to meet consumer demand for organic products. Evidence has shown that there are significant biodiversity, pollution control, energy efficiency and soil protection benefits associated with organic farming.

What you can do

Support through this Option is available for farmers and crofters.

If applying for the organic conversion Option financial support is also available for a range of capital items.

Land managers must adhere to organic standards for the period of the agreement, which is a minimum of five years. Throughout this time you must remain registered with an approved Organic Certification Body. You may also phase land into your agreement.

All land on your farm which has already been converted to organic standards at the date of application, as well as the land which is to be converted through the scheme will have to remain organic for as long as payments are being made under the scheme, and you have responsibility of the agricultural production on that land.

Who can apply

Any eligible land manager in Scotland can apply - there are no geographical restrictions. You are eligible to apply if you have responsibility for and control over agricultural production on the land in question, and can meet the conditions of the agreement. You will be either an owner occupier, tenant or person acting on behalf of common grazings committee. Where the tenancy agreement or management contract has less than five years to run, you may still apply so long as you undertake jointly with the owner to assume the obligations of the agreement. These options cannot be taken on seasonal let land, or lets of 364 days or less.

Eligibility criteria

Please see the guidance notes for implementing conversion to and maintenance of organic farming schemes for eligibility criteria.

What costs could be supported

Support is available for the conversion, or maintenance of four different land types. Conversion rates are higher for the first two years to recognise the financial impact of converting land.

Support is also available towards capital work required for organic conversion. Capital items must be completed within the first two years of the contract (where phased in land is included in the proposal this will be the first two years of the relevant parcel of land, where the capital item is situated, entering RDCs).

Rate of support

We will pay you for a period of five consecutive years on each eligible hectare of land entered into either the Organic Conversion or Organic Maintenance Option, subject to the maximum hectarage.  The rate of payment depends on the category of land involved and the agreement year for which the payment is due.

Organic conversion payment rates

Land Type Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Year 4 Year 5
Arable £280 £280 £65 £65 £65
Improved Grassland £140 £140 £55 £55 £55
Fruit and Vegetable £400 £400 £200 £200 £200

Unimproved grassland/rough grazing

£12.50 £12.50 £8.50 £8.50 £8.50

A minimum payment of £500 per annum per IACS business for conversion applies.

Organic maintenance payment rates

Land Type Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Year 4 Year 5
Arable £65 £65 £65 £65 £65
Improved Grassland £55 £55 £55 £55 £55
Fruit and Vegetable £200 £200 £200 £200 £200

Unimproved grassland/rough grazing

£8.50 £8.50 £8.50 £8.50 £8.50

A minimum payment of £500 per annum per IACS business for maintenance applies.

There are incompatibilities between some options in this measure, and other measures. You are advised to ensure that any other measures you are intending to include in your proposal are compatible.

Capital items

Certain capital items can be included in a proposal for Organic Conversion. The capital work proposed relating to this Option must be required for the conversion to organic production and completed within the first two years of the contract, of the relevant parcel of land entering Rural Development Contracts. For a comprehensive list of Capital Items click here. Any cost claimed must be fully justified. The following are examples of what may be claimed:

When completing your Proposal, you can select the appropriate capital item(s) from the dropdown list of standard cost capital items for this Option.

In addition to the above capital items, financial support of up to 100% of eligible actual costs is available in respect of the following:

Please note that these capital items will not appear in the dropdown list of Standard Cost capital items for this Option and will need to be entered manually in the box for Actual Cost capital items. Only costs for the types of capital works listed above should be entered in the Actual Cost capital items box for this Option. Any other costs entered cannot be considered for funding.

Inspections/verification

The inspector will check the requirements (as detailed above under 'what you can do') of the Option are being met, by a visual assessment on the day of inspection.

Beneficiaries must comply with the requirements of cross compliance and the minimum requirements for fertiliser and plant protection products (detailed in links below).

The following is a brief overview of the inspection procedures, for a full explanation please see links below:

Inspectors will check:

  • Compliance with organic farming standards
  • Copies of Organic Certification Body inspection reports and production schedule
  • Claimed capital items have been completed to approved amounts and scheme standards (for Conversion only)

The Organic Certification Body will visit your holding at least once a year to check that you are meeting the necessary organic farming standards.

Each year you must submit details:

1. If you are in organic conversion and have the Conversion to Organic Production option, then submit confirmation of this from an approved certification body.

2. If you have the Maintenance of Organic Farming option in your contract, then submit your certificate of registration and production schedule.

In order to receive your annual payment for managing the land organically you must submit the required documentation by the end of December each year.

List of links to relevant technical guidance

Organic standards

Hectare limits and eligible land

Organic production and care of the environment standards

Phasing in land/bringing additional land into an organic contract

Description of land categories

Documentation to be submitted

Organic viability proposal form (required for organic conversion option only)

Organic viability proposal guidance (required for organic conversion option only)

Section on 'On the spot' inspections

Minimum requirements for Fertiliser and Plant Protection Products - detailed guidance