Working in organic farming
The most obvious opportunities exist on the farm, where the more traditional hands-on approach to agriculture creates a need for a large number of workers of all levels of experience.
Organic farmers often take on large numbers of apprentices and trainees to ensure the next generation of farmers adopt a more sustainable mix of traditional and modern scientific agricultural practices. The possibility to work on smaller, more diversified holdings in the organic farming sector also increases the opportunities for newcomers to agriculture, particularly at a time when the average age of farmers is well over 60 and fewer and fewer people are choosing to enter the agricultural sector.
Organic Works, a 2006 survey from the UK’s Soil Association, found organic farming in the UK provides 32% more jobs per farm than equivalent non-organic farms, while organic farmers in the UK were on average seven years younger than non-organic farmers.
The healthy image of nature and agriculture fostered by organic farming provides opportunities to establish rural and eco-tourism ventures, demonstration farms, open days and other accommodation and hospitality ventures.
Hospitality, marketing and tourism professionals are among the types of employees who can benefit from this trend.
Due to organic farming’s emphasis on maintaining high standards of animal health and welfare, people working with organic animals must be committed and highly skilled. These qualities extend not only to farmers and farm labourers but also to:
- Veterinarians and veterinary medicine suppliers
- Animal feed suppliers
- Other service providers, such as livestock housing specialists
The different needs of organic farming – such as the need for information and research on controlling weeds without herbicides or producing high yields without reliance on synthetic fertilisers – also create more opportunities in the many different fields of related scientific research, including:
- Cropping systems
- Plant protection
- Plant nutrition
- Animal health and welfare
- Animal nutrition
As well as producing plants and livestock that eventually end up as the delicious organic meals on your plate, many organic farmers also take an active role in the marketing – and sometimes processing, distribution and retailing – of their products.
This approach calls for service providers who have a highly developed knowledge of the organic farming sector so they can provide farmers and processors with all the information and skills they need in order to succeed.
Opportunities therefore exist for specialists in the areas of dedicated banking, financial advice, agricultural consultancy and business management services to organic businesses across the EU.
The wide variety of market channels used by organic farmers and processors create a similarly wide number of new retail positions and opportunities in the related processing and distribution sectors.
Organic farming also needs transport operators who can meet the specific demands of the industry, namely the:
- Delivery of products to markets within short distances and a short amount of time
- Effective separation of organic and non-organic produce at all times
- Minimisation of transport times and any associated stress and suffering of livestock