21 July 1998
Organic conversions boom in south east

By FWi staff

RECORD numbers of farmers in the south east are applying to convert their land into organic farming, junior farm minister Lord Donoughue said yesterday (Monday).

Twenty-eight applications have been received by MAFFs regional service centre in Reading so far this year. Applicants are proposing to put nearly 1900ha more into the scheme.

Visiting Elm Farm Research Centre near Newbury, Lord Donoughue said: “The figures clearly show the trend for organic farming is increasing. I encourage moves in this direction and fully support the organic sector.

“The number of farmers applying for organic status in the south east clearly shows a growing confidence in the organic produce market – both from growers and consumers.

Elm Farm Research Centre is at Hamstead Marshall, near Newbury. It is based on a 96ha, fully converted working farm providing scientific research, education and training courses, an advisory service and an organic demonstration network.

Ninety farmers in total have applied to the Organic Aid Scheme administered by Reading regional service centre. The total number of farmers who have applied throughout England is 446.