29 July 1997
Farmers to be offered more cash to go organic
THE government is considering offering farmers bigger cash sums to convert to organic farming.
Elliot Morley, junior agriculture minister responsible for the countryside, has launched a review of Britains existing incentives.
Under a scheme introduced in 1994, British farmers in the process of switching to organic methods are eligible for grants averaging £50 a hectare (2.5 acres) a year for five years to tide them over. This is the lowest conversion incentive in the European Union. Finland, for example, pays £325.
In Britain there are 820 organic farmers, who account for 0.3% of all farmers and land farmed. Only Spain, Greece and Ireland have smaller organic sectors.
In the 15 member states of the European Union, 63,000 farmers have gone organic. The UK government has also been asked to pay maintenance grants after the transition period.