Welsh confident about future of organic farming

Confidence in the future of organic farming in Wales is running high, a new survey has revealed.

A total of 472 farmers, or 67% of all the organic farmers in Wales, provided usable information for Organic Centre Wales researchers. Preliminary analysis of the results shows that, at the end of last year, 16% of them were planning to expand.

Collectively, the producers who responded produced 5500 finished cattle, 3700 store cattle, 85,000 finished lambs, 11,000 store lambs, 61m litres of milk and 500,000 dozen eggs.

Organic outlets were found for almost all the fully-organic finished livestock, milk and eggs. But lack of demand meant that 26% of store lambs were sold as non-organic.

About 60% of the farmers who produced them reported that prices were probably or definitely too low for them to continue their store lamb enterprises.

Scrapie lamb

Overall, between 50% and 60% of respondents considered returns justified continued organic production.

Presenting the results Professor Nic Lampkin, director of Organic Centre Wales, said that interest in conversion to organic production remained strong.

New Organic Information Service registrations topped 400 in 2006 and 2007.

The sector had continued to grow despite the temporary closure of the Welsh Organic Farming Scheme in 2007.

“The certified organic and in-conversion area is set to exceed 90,000ha on 800 holdings, representing around 6.3% of Welsh agricultural land,” Prof Lampkin said.

This compared with 0.3% in 1998 when the first organic action plan was developed.

* Detailed survey results will be published shortly on the OCW website.

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