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Organic Farmers

Volume 172: debated on Thursday 17 May 1990

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To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what representations he has received about assistance for organic farmers.

I have received a number of representations. In response I have pointed out that my Department is grant-aiding the United Kingdom register of organic food standards with £60,000 per annum. Last year it supported research directly related to organic farming amounting to £198,000 and other research of assistance to organic farmers amounting to £892,000. In addition last year it commissioned a study of the economics of the production and marketing of organically grown farm produce in Great Britain. Further support is available in the form of advice from the Agricultural Development and Advisory Service. Assistance is given to the formation of co-operatives for organically grown produce under the agricultural and horticultural co-operation schemes. Payments under the fallow options of the set-aside scheme can help farmers with the cost of converting to organic production. Grants under the farm and conservation grant scheme can go towards investment in organic production, and I intend shortly to issue a consultation document on a pilot whole farm organic extensification scheme under the EC extensification scheme.