08 January 1999
South claims organic farming crown

FARMERS in southern England are carving out a major role in organic food production because they cannot compete with prairie-style farms in East Anglia.

Delegates at the Institute of British Geographers conference yesterday (Thursday) were told that consumers in the region wanted organic food and were prepared to pay for it.

The organic heartland runs down central southern England and along the South Coast, according to Brian Ilbery of Coventry University.

The core counties for organic production include Herefordshire, Worcestershire, Gloucestershire, Wiltshire, Dorset, Oxfordshire and Berkshire.

Dr Ilbery said that half of the 601 organic farms in England and Wales in 1996 were in just 10 counties.

More large-scale arable farms are now converting to organic production but Dr Ilbery said half the organic farms in 1990 had reverted to conventional farming by 1997.

  • The Times 08/01/99 page 14