13 October 2000

Extra £2.28m for organic farming

AN extra £2.28m has been allocated to the Organic Farming Scheme in Wales, increasing the total to £4.23m this financial year.

Carwyn Jones, the Welsh National Assemblys agriculture secretary, made the announcement at the annual meeting of the Soil Association in Cardiff, when he also said the new application period would begin on Nov 1.

"In opening the scheme so soon after the Star Committee approved the Rural Development Plan for Wales we are well ahead of the rest of the UK," claimed Mr Jones.

Around 250 applications were approved in the OFSs first year. Patrick Holden, the associations director, urged the national assembly to grasp the opportunity that existed to turn current organic farming activity into a strategy with long-term targets.

This could transform agricultural prosperity and would be of enormous benefit to the whole population. But there needed to be a change of attitude if Wales was to embrace fully the concept of organic production.

Nic Lampkin, director of the Organic Centre Wales, Aberystwyth, claimed that policy makers needed to recognise the real potential of organic farming and provide support, not just for conversion, but for an on-going payment as well. &#42