Organic farming on the rise
A new study has found that an increasing number of farmers are converting to organic, as a result of consumer demands and a new scheme from the UK Government.
A study by The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has revealed that land going through the two-year conversion period to organic rose by 34 percent in 2021, compared to the previous year. The report also shows a major rise in organic farming in the UK, increasing by 3.6 percent last year, following growth of 0.8 percent in 2020.
The drive behind this, according to the Soil Association Certification, is a result of consumer demand for “nature-friendly” farming that offers resilience.
“It is encouraging to see that the latest statistics show confidence in organic farming is on the rise in the UK,” said Sophie Kirk, Business Development Manager for Soil Association Certification. “Our farming sector has dealt with many shocks over the last few years but opportunities for sustainable farming remain strong with rising consumer demand and government support for organic.
“It is clear both government and shoppers are waking up to the benefits organic can deliver for nature and the environment, and these latest figures show that, with the right incentives, nature and climate friendly farming can grow rapidly.”
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Arable (crop) farmer Alex Fraser completed conversion to organic on his 260 acre farm in West Yorkshire last summer. He told Soil Association Certification that he “couldn’t really imagine farming in any other way; it just felt like the right thing to do”.
Elaborating he said: “Currently more ingredients and products are imported to support the increased demand for organic food. We need robust UK supply chains to support more organic production at home, particularly as our research shows consumers want to buy British. The long-term goals that government has set out for agriculture, with a new focus on protecting soils, wildlife and the environment, are in harmony with the principles of organic farming. Alongside continued growth in the organic market, this should give any farmer greater confidence to switch to or maintain organic farming practices, despite the short-term uncertainty facing every farm.”
The rise in organic farming is expected to continue throughout 2022 and beyond; Soil Association Certification believes the growth is a result of the UK Government’s announcement earlier this year that it would pay up to double the previous rates to farmers in England who convert to organic.