The Conversion Process
When the initial inspection has been carried out, the application approved and the “in-conversion licence” granted, a period of conversion begins. Normally two years in duration, this period of conversion allows time for the land and producer to adjust to the organic methods.
During the conversion period, the enterprise must adhere to all the Organic Standards concerning animal welfare, artificial fertilisers, pesticides and chemicals. The changes proposed in the conversion plan must be implemented during this period.
After the required conversion period expires, the inspection body may issue organic status to the farmer (unless conversion period is being extended), which allows the farmer to sell his/her produce as organic.
There may be a financial cost associated with conversion. These costs vary widely according to individual circumstances but would be influenced by some of the following factors:
- output reduction due to changes in production practices,
- capital investments in land, machinery, livestock housing etc.,
- certification and inspection costs,
- inability to command premium prices during the conversion phase.
The proposed Organic Farming Scheme 2015 addresses this potential financial cost by allowing for higher payments during the conversion period.