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Organic sector applauded but industry 'still has a way to go'

Land in-conversion for organic farming has jumped almost 30 per cent since last year.


Lauren   Dean

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Lauren   Dean
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Subtle growths in organic sector applauded but warned industry still had a way to go

The rise follows the first positive increase in organic farmland since 2008, with subtle but significant growth in organically farmed land, sheep, pig and poultry.

 

Defra’s latest figures, released yesterday (May 17), said organic operators in the UK had also risen 3.5 per cent last year following a 34 per cent decline since 2007.

 

The amount of land farmed organically was also up 1.9 per cent to 517,000-hectares (1,277,535-acres), with the market having grown at more than 6 per cent totalling its highest ever level of sales at £2.2 billion.

 

According to Defra, the market sales surge was mainly due to organic poultry numbers in England rising 8.5 per cent.


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The organic poultry sector has increased 8.5 per cent since 2016 to more than 3 million animals.
The organic poultry sector has increased 8.5 per cent since 2016 to more than 3 million animals.

The Soil Association, which welcomed the figures, suggested it reflected the ‘increasing demand for organic products both in the UK and abroad’ but warned it was ‘not a time to rest on [our] laurels’.

 

The cereals sector remained ‘an area of concern’, it added.

 

Unsustainable

Chief executive of the Certification Martin Sawyer said: “There is growth across the organic market for the first time in a decade from field to fork and Defra’s land statistics are supported by our recent Organic Market Report findings.

 

“Whilst it is a day for applauding the farming community, it is also a day to remember that it is not a time to rest on our laurels.

“Without funding, infrastructure and research development, this growth across nations and regions cannot be sustained.”

 

Mr Sawyer encouraged farmers to consider organic land in-conversion with links to the associations Organic Arable report which highlighted demand for UK grown organic feed was currently outstripping supply.

 

He said the opportunity stood with the Government ‘to deliver environmental, animal welfare and public health benefits through enhanced support for organic farming systems and practices’.

 

Growth in organic livestock:

  • Sheep: up 5.5 per cent to 887,000 animals
  • Pig: up 86.9 per cent to 59,000 animals
  • Cattle: down 7.4 per cent to 274,400 animals
  • Poultry: up 8.5 per cent to 3,059,800 animals
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