UK government to promote organic farming
Elliot Morley, the agriculture minister responsible for the countryside, is to announce tomorrow that the government is looking at promoting organic farming. He will be seeking views from the industry.
He has accepted that farmers need five-year conversion grants to make the transition to organic farming. But he is understood not to have accepted the need for maintenance grants after conversion. Organic farmers have been pushing the case for maintenance grants, which many other European states provide.
Only 3% of agricultural land in the UK is farmed organically, the lowest proportion of any state in the European Union. The conversion grants total £250 per hectare over five years. Last week, CWS Agriculture, one of the largest farming companies in the UK, completed a seven-year organic experiment that suggested organic farming could be nearly as profitable as conventional farming. The market for organic farming is growing by 20% to 30% a year.