14 May 1999
Danish organic farmers target UK

By Jonathan Riley

THE Danish government has proposed a new action plan for its organic farming sector which would specifically target the UK as an lucrative export market.

The plan, which would provide a cash injection worth an equivalent of 194m to organic farmers, would treble Danish organic production over the next five years.

It would bring Denmarks organic output to 10% of agricultural production, in line with farm minister Hendrik dam Kristensens desire to see it grow to 50% within 10 years.

The new support programme is in addition to an established government support scheme which covers half of research costs associated with new product development.

Among the aims listed by the Danish government for the new plan is the strengthening of exports to neighbouring countries, especially the United Kingdom.

Patrick Holden, director of the Soil Association, warned: The Danes are gearing up to steal our market for a long time to come.

Organic farming aid is preferred by the World Trade Organisation to production linked subsidies, which the Danes are fully aware of.

This new Danish policy means they will be able to go on supporting their farmers long into the future.

He added: The Danes have the foresight to forge ahead with organic farming playing a central role in policy.

Despite a dramatic rise in land under conversion or in organic production in the UK, government funds to encourage farmers to go organic only amount to 6.25m.

As we predicted this will run out within weeks and the government has commented that farmers begin converting now and apply for funds next year, said Mr Holden.

This means farmers will not receive one penny until next year. Compare that with the forward thinking Danish approach its pathetic.