17 January 2001
Organic Bill before Parliament

By FWi staff

A BILL which would see almost one-third of England and Wales farmed organically by 2010 is being presented before Parliament on Wednesday (17 January).

The Organic Food and Farming Targets Bill is being sponsored by Simon Thomas, Plaid Cymru MP for Ceredigion.

The Private Members Bill aims to develop an action plan for organic farming, and set a target for 30% of land in England and Wales to be organic by 2010.

The same bill was presented by Lib Dem MP Paul Tyler last year, but ran out of time.

But Bill co-ordinator Sustain, which promotes better food and farming, says since then the Government has shifted towards its aims.

Ministers have announced a target of 430,000ha of organic farmland by 2007, and shown interest in an organic action plan.

Mr Thomas said: “The Government has now set a target for organic farming in the England, so I am optimistic that they will now look at this Bill again.”

The Bill has the support of more than 100 groups, including unions, consumer and environmental organisations and supermarkets.

Barry Leathwood of the Transport and General Workers Union said the Bill could create as many as 16,000 jobs.

“Agricultural workers desperately need new opportunities, and organic farming is one means of creating new jobs that should be seized by the Government.”

With a general election expected in the spring, it is unlikely that there will be enough time for the Bill to make much progress.