Wait for cash before going organic

2 November 1999

‘Wait for cash before going organic’

By FWi staff

FARMERS hoping to convert land to organic production should be wary of doing so until the government allocates more money to the sector, it was claimed today (Tuesday).

The extra £10 million promised last week by the government will not pay for any more producers to stop farming with chemicals, warned organic campaigners.

Despite the additional government support, the extra money is only enough to help out those farmers already converting land to organic production, it was said.

Agriculture minister Nick Brown claimed last Thursday that the extra funding would allow the re-opening of the English Organic Farming Scheme.

The scheme closed last month because so it ran out of funds after hundreds of farmers applied to convert their land to organic production.

But the extra £10m is still not enough to meet demand, said Patrick Holden, director of the pro-organic Soil Association, told a conference in London.

“Were actually going to have to advise farmers that there is going to be no organic aid funding until the government provides more money,” he said.

“Its a very difficult position were in.”

Mr Holden said the £10m had effectively been swallowed up by farmers who had embarked on organic conversion in the expectation they would be paid to do so.

The amount of land farmed organically has grown by 25% a year over the past 10 years, according to Soil Association figures.

More than 3 million hectares are in conversion and organic production is expected to account for 10% of all European farm land by 2005.

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