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Introducing the Soil Association

The Soil Association

The Soil Association exists to research, develop and promote sustainable relationships between the soil,plants,animals, people and the biosphere, in order to produce healthy food and other products while protecting and enhancing the environment
Mission Statement of the Soil Association

The Soil Association has been researching and promoting organic farming as the key to sustainable agriculture since 1946. Problems such as the degradation of the countryside, increased diet-related illness, mistreatment of animals and lack of public trust in food are connected with industrialised methods of food production. An organic system of food production can help to overcome these problems.

We are the only body actively working to represent organic farming at government level in the UK. Our unique position as both a certification body and not-for-profit membership organisation, (involved in a broad range of activities aimed to promote sustainable agriculture) enables us to provide a crucial service to producers, processors and consumers alike.

Many people are familiar with our distinctive symbol that appears on most organic food, but not so many realise we are a charity that relies on the publicís support to do much of our work. We produce two publications - Living Earth - our membership magazine, and Organic Farming, the premier journal for organic producers read in over 30 countries.


  • Members and supporters help to fund our activities and are also in the front line of change locally.
  • Information and education through publications, leaflets and magazines.
  • Events such as seminars, farm walks, shows and talks.
  • Influencing and lobbying policy makers and opinion formers.
  • Partnership working with other organisations.
  • Advisory work with farmers, manufacturers, local authorities and groups interested in developing sustainable food economies.
  • Campaigns on areas such as genetic engineering, local food links and the use of antibiotics in intensive farming.

Organic principles

Over the past 50 years the Soil Association has played a leading role in the development of worldwide organic standards. The International Federation of Organic Agricultural Movements (to which we belong) is responsible for ensuring there is a common understanding and practice of organic food production. Examples of some organic principles include:

  • To produce food of high nutritional quality in sufficient quantity.
  • To encourage and enhance biological cycles within the farming system, involving micro organisms, soil flora and fauna, plants and animals.
  • To use, as far as possible, renewable resources in locally organised agricultural systems.
  • To minimise all forms of pollution that may result from agricultural practice.
  • To maintain the genetic diversity of the agricultural system and its surroundings, including the protection of plant and wildlife habitats.
  • To consider the wider social and ecological impact of the farming system.

Organic certification
Under EU law, the production and processing of food intended for sale as organic must be inspected annually by an authorised body of which Soil Association Certification Ltd (a wholly owned subsidiary of the Soil Association) is one. The Soil Association symbol is only awarded to food produced according to our rigorous standards. These standards cover a broad range of subjects including growing methods, farm animal welfare, environmental criteria, processing and packaging.

The Soil Association has been developing standards for organic food production and processing since 1967. They are constantly working to improve the standards in the light of new developments whilst remaining true to organic principles. In order to do they we work with and utilise all available expertise, together with consumer representation, in a range of standards committees which form part of a comprehensive and transparent standards setting process.

Each section of the standards is broken down into recommended, permitted, restricted and prohibited practices, covering everything from crop production and livestock to conservation, processing, packing and distribution. There are also specific sections on areas of the sector such as health and beauty products and organic textiles.

the Soil Association

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