MICHAEL Gove, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, expressed support for organic farming at both Oxford conferences and the Soil Association is now urging the government to put this into legislation.

Speaking at the Oxford Farming Conference, Mr Gove said: “Farmers who have chosen to go organic can secure a premium in the market for their produce but their contribution to improving the level of organic matter in our soil also leads to more carbon sequestration and broader environmental resilience. These are public goods that too should be rewarded.”

In response, Liz Bowles, head of farming at the Soil Association, said: “We welcome Michael Gove’s support for organic farming at Oxford Farming Conference and Oxford Real Farming Conference.

"We agree that organic farming should be rewarded as a public good for its ability to deliver public goods in a holistic manner across the whole farm; improving the level of organic matter in soils, leading to carbon sequestration and broader environmental resilience.

“This now needs to be enshrined in UK law – government needs to get behind agroecological systems and expansion of the organic sector. Organic farms have on average 50% more wildlife than conventional farms and healthier soils that can store more carbon and are more flood and climate change resilient.

“The government therefore now needs to support the proposed amendments to the Agriculture Bill which make “establishing and maintaining whole farm agroecological systems” one of the purposes for which farmers receive payments.

“We also welcome Mr Gove’s reassurance today that the UK will maintain its current food, animal welfare and environmental standards and the government must act now to ensure post-Brexit food and agricultural policy does not allow imports of lower standards to undercut British farmers.”