A statement for our licensees from Martin Sawyer, CEO Soil Association.
Clearly the referendum result will have implications longer term in regard to the UK organic world. Be reassured that the team at Soil Association Certification will be working very hard on ensuring we represent your interests and concerns; we absolutely believe in the ongoing recovery of the market in the UK. As Chair of UKOCG, the UK Organic Certification Bodies Group, I will be co-ordinating discussions for the certification bodies with Defra to ensure we are all clear as to how organic will be properly represented in the coming months and years, both in regard to regulation and the provision of a sustainable farming model.
The Soil Association is very disappointed that the UK will be leaving the European Union. One of the Soil Association’s key charitable objectives is to preserve, conserve and protect the environment and our view is that these objectives were far more likely to be achieved as part of the EU.
UK wildlife, the environment and the organic farming sector have been major beneficiaries of EU membership, where the precautionary principle prevails in policy making. Thanks to EU policy, the UK has cleaned up its act as ‘the dirty man of Europe’ and now has cleaner beaches, rivers and better protection for wildlife, including our vital pollinators as a direct result of EU membership. It is vital that these gains are secured.
We will be working hard to ensure that the transfer is smooth and that any subsequent changes safeguard the UK’s growing organic market. As a non-member of the EU, the UK will still be required to comply with EU organic standards to maintain the flow of organic products to and from the EU, so the UK will likely also continue to be bound by the EU Organic Regulation, and any changes made to it by EU Member States.
We will be working closely with the governments in all parts of the UK to develop the best possible practical solutions and outcome for wildlife, the environment and organic farmers. Those communities who are most vulnerable such as those on low incomes and upland farmers need to be foremost in our minds as we consider what policies should be developed over the next couple of years in preparation for our exit.