Soil Association Scotland criticises The Scottish Executive

The Soil Association Scotland (SAS) criticised The Scottish Executive this week for claiming that it had met the organic targets set out in its Organic Action Plan, published in 2003.

SAS argued that the targets had only been “partially met” as Scottish producers were only hitting the 70% target for certain food types.  The results, published in the Scottish Executive’s third annual report on Wednesday (28 February), showed that “Scottish farmers are now supplying 70% of the demand for organic food”. 

But the SAS argued that this only related to beef, lamb, table birds and aquaculture products, leaving horticultural and arable products on the sidelines. 

SAS are now proposing a new Organic Action Plan which would set out new targets for production and consumption.

In a press statement, Hugh Raven, director of SAS, said: We welcome the progress to date, but the Executive needs to make a far bigger commitment even to keep pace with increasing market demand. Demand for organic produce in Scotland is growing at over 20% each year – but the level of support for organic farmers, at £5.5m in 2007, is the same this year as in 2003.

“It’s simply not good enough that in 2006, two thirds of organic farmers applying for continuing support and a third of applicants for conversion assistance were rejected by SEERAD [Scottish Executive Environment and Rural Affairs Department]. These figures put the Executive’s apparent achievements in a very different light.”

Deputy Environment and Rural Development Minister Sarah Boyack said: “We are committed to working with the industry to develop the Scottish organic sector even further.”