6 October 1999
Government ‘got its organic sums wrong’

By FWi staff

ORGANIC farmers have accused the government of a serious lack of judgement after it emerged there will no more funds for organic conversion for almost two years.

Junior farm minister Elliot Morley confirmed on Tuesday there would be no more money for farmers who want to convert to organic production until April 2001.

The current scheme will close until 2001/2 and producers who apply from now on will have their application forms returned, he said.

A spokesman for the Soil Association, which certifies organic farms, accused the government of “blocking the future of organic farming”.

Simon Brenman, agriculture development director for the Soil Association said the move was a “disastrous blow” to farmers eager to convert to organic production.

“Having been told by the Government that they would benefit from a doubling of the rate of aid offered to farmers wishing to go organic, the reality is that the cupboard is bare,” he said.

Money ran out for the governments Organic Farming Scheme, unveiled by farm minister Nick Brown in April, less than four months after it was launched.

The Soil Association claims the Government miscalculated the demand for the scheme by at least four fold.

This failure will inevitably curtail the development of UK organic agriculture for the forseeable future, said Mr Brennan.