23 June 1995

Organic food is booming scene

Organic dairy, beef and pig production is on the increase in Denmark in order to meet booming consumer demand. Michael Gaisford reports

DANISH dairy, beef and pig farmers are switching to organic production methods in an attempt to meet booming consumer demand for organic milk, dairy products, beef and pork.

By the end of this year there are expected to be well over 1000 organic farms in Denmark, with many more in the process of conversion, particularly dairy farms.

Over the past six months organic products have been cleared from supermarket shelves as fast as they are put there, due mainly to a spate of adverse publicity about the use of growth promoters and antibiotics in intensive livestock production in Denmark.

"Danish agriculture is rapidly turning light green due to pressure from consumers," says Danish Ministry forage crop specialist Martin Mikkelsen.

He says that large dairy farms encouraged by cash incentives from dairy processing firms are now rapidly switching to organic production. At present it takes them two years to do so, but pressure is mounting to cut the changeover period to just one year because of shortages of organic dairy produce in Danish shops and supermarkets.

"It is not a difficult job for dairy farmers on light land using clover/grass mixtures to change to organic production, and we are carrying out a lot of trials here on mechanical weed control," says Mr Mikkelsen.

"Organic farming is increasing very rapidly now, and farmers seem to quite like it as long as they do not lose money by changing from conventional production methods," says Mr Mikkelsen.