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A new report which shows that organic milk is higher in beneficial nutrients and fatty acids has been launched by scientists at Newcastle University. It comes in a long line of research proving the benefits of buying organic milk.

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The paper not only shows why there is a difference in the nutritional quality of organic and non-organic milk, but also identifies the importance of feeding at least 60% grass or conserved grass to organic cows, as required by organic standards.

The research emphasises the huge importance of allowing cattle to graze outdoors and to eat a natural diet high in grass. This means organic cows do not depend on high levels of grain and proteins such as soya.

Emma Hockridge, Soil Association head of policy who are in support of the report, comments: “This ground-breaking research proves for the first time that people buying organic milk will benefit from the higher levels of beneficial fatty acids in organic milk throughout the whole year. It shows the clear link between healthy soil, healthy animals and healthy people and is another warning flag against the proposed 3,770 cow, mega dairy at Nocton in Lincolnshire.”

The Soil Association and the Organic Growers Alliance (OGA) are calling on growers and gardeners to be vigilant following renewed cases of damaged crops due to manure contaminated with the herbicide aminopyralid. The symptoms exhibited on the crops are twisted, cupped, and elongated leaves; misshapen fruit; reduced yield; death of young plants; and poor seed germination.

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Aminopyralid is a dangerous chemical which has caused serious damage and both the Soil Association and OGA want it banned from sale. It has been discovered that it can remain active, damage subsequent crops, and can pose a human health threat, even after the crop to which it has been applied has been eaten by a horse or cow, passed through the animal, been stored as farm yard manure, and eventually applied to another crop.

After government lobbying by the Soil Association, OGA, Garden Organic, and others, and following many cases of damage to crops in 2008, the product was withdrawn from sale by the manufacturers Dow AgroScience Ltd. It was then re-instated in September 2009 by the Chemicals Regulations Directorate (CRD), with supposed ‘enhanced stewardship requirements’ which are in fact unenforced, and despite a petition on the Prime Minister’s website which raised over 1500 objections and a submission from concerned allotment holders.

Ben Raskin, Soil Association Horticultural Advisor, said:
“The problem has not gone away and there may still be manure around that contains herbicide from 2008. It may also be that the ’stewardship’ proposals, which aim to prevent manure leaving farms where aminopyralid has been used, are not working. We urge growers to be careful about where they are sourcing their manure from.

“This product should never have been relicenced – manure contaminated with this herbicide is no longer a valuable resource for gardeners but a toxic waste product. The fact that this hormone weed killer is still causing significant problems for growers despite this industry attempts to prevent damage means that it should be immediately banned by the government.”

Planning a bunch of things to do with this kids this Easter? Well look no further than a family-friendly egg hunt on an organic farm!

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The lovely people at Green & Blacks and the Soil Association are giving away 5,000 dark and milk chocolate eggs these Easter hols.

About 50 farms from Devon to Fife are hosting farm visits throughout April, complete with fun activities like tractor trailer rides, egg painting, meeting the animals, farm walks and even the chance to see newborn lambs. Most will take place around the school holidays.

Soil Association eggmeister, Rupert Aker, said:

Farm visits are great fun. We’ve been hosting them for over a decade and kids love them. Farmers get a lot out of them too, which is great. Organic farms are lovely places to visit. They are often more traditional than conventional ones, with more wildlife to see and a better mix of crops and animals.

To check out what’s happening in your area, to book a place or download a free Easter egg hunt activity book just click here.