Farming minister confirms organic support to continue

Organic Support To Continue

In the face of sharply rising demand for organic food, the Soil Association has welcomed the news that farmers will be able to apply for organic support in 2017 and 2018.  

At a meeting today with members of the English Organic Forum, Farming Minister George Eustice MP confirmed that existing organic farmers and growers whose Organic Entry Level schemes are coming to an end, and new farmers who want to convert to organic, would be able to apply for support under the Countryside Stewardship scheme for the next two years.    

The Farming Minister confirmed that the application process for farmers will open later in 2017 and again in 2018. These agreements last for 5 years, providing some welcome stability in the face of major risks and uncertainties faced by farmers as the UK prepares to leave the EU. 

This welcome news underlines the benefits that organic farming delivers and the value for money that it represents. 

Peter Melchett,  Policy Director at the Soil Association, who took part in the meeting, said: “The confirmation that applications for organic payments will open this year and next will come as a welcome news to consumers and farmers alike. The demand for organic food is growing strongly in the UK, and is currently outstripping home-grown supply. Export markets for British organic produce present a further opportunity for British farmers to prosper, if the right Government policies are in place. 

Peter Melchett also presented a briefing note and highlighted the United States as an opportunity for growth. The US has the largest organic market in the world with 43% of global sales. This market grew by 11% in 2015 – far exceeding the 3% growth rate of the US non-organic food market. The US organic market has enjoyed years of steady growth largely unaffected by the recession, up from $17 million in 2006 to over $40 billion today. 

Soil Association Certification is actively working with many of these rapidly growing markets and offers organic licensees additional support in this area.

The meeting was attended by: Nic Lampkin, Chair English Organic Forum and Director Organic Research Centre; Adrian Blackshaw, Organic Trade Board; Peter Melchett, Soil Association; Tom Rigby, NFU Organic Group; Roger Kerr, Organic Farmers and Growers; Tarry Bolger, Biodynamic Association; John Pawsey, arable farmer and NFU Arable Crops Committee member; Julian Wade, Organic Food Federation.