14 May 1999

Organic label offer

EAST Anglia farmers in the midst of organic conversion have been offered a new independent labelling system to help them obtain higher prices for their produce.

East Anglia Food Link was set up a few years ago with the help of European Union, MAFF and local authority funds to support organic conversion and expansion.

Its new labelling system is a recognition of the fact that the MAFF organic scheme does not fully compensate for loss of income during the two or three year conversion period, before farmers can obtain full organic registration.

The system is also an attempt to encourage the development of regional markets for organic produce.

Clive Peckham, East Anglia Food Link spokesman, said: "It is becoming increasingly obvious that the organic aid scheme payments are not adequate to compensate for loss of income during the conversion period."

The new labelling system, which was only open to members of the Food Link organisation in East Anglia, should help farmers to get better prices for produce which was grown to organic standards even though it did not yet qualify for Soil Association approval, he said.

The system was launched this week at Stonehouse Farm, West Harling, Norfolk, run by Richard and Sue Evans, who entered 271ha (670 acres) of grassland into organic conversion last year. &#42