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Organic Food

Volume 474: debated on Monday 21 April 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what support is available from his Department for farmers who wish to switch to organic food production. (198719)

We want to encourage the expansion of organic food production and have just re-launched the Organic Conversion Information Service (OCIS), which provides free organic conversion advice to help farmers and land managers in England consider the practical implications of converting their businesses to organic production.

Financial support is available for organic farmers under the organic entry level stewardship (OELS) section of the environmental stewardship scheme. Aid under the OELS is worth £60 per hectare per year in recognition of the inherent environmental benefits delivered through farming organically. Top-up payments for the conversion of improved land and top fruit orchards are also available under OELS.

Both OCIS and OELS are managed by Natural England on behalf of DEFRA. There are equivalent arrangements in other UK territories.

More details are available on the DEFRA and the Natural England websites.