Select Committee on Agriculture Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence

Annex 1


  On 19 October 1999 the Organic Food and Farming Targets Bill (England, Wales and Northern Ireland) was launched. The aim of the Bill is to persuade the Government to adopt a strategy and targets to greatly increase the size of the organic sector in the next ten years. The targets were chosen based on current demand and supply, rates of growth in demand, available land, European trends and experience in other European countries. These targets are:

    —  not less than 30 per cent by area of agricultural land in England, Wales and Northern Ireland is certified as organic or is in the process of being converted to that status, and;

    —  not less than 20 per cent by volume of food consumed in England, Wales and Northern Ireland is certified as organic.

  Other requirements of the Bill include:

    —  the need to ensure greater access to organic food for all sectors of society;

    —  addressing problems of market infrastructure and development;

    —  the need to develop local food distribution networks.

  Over 200 MPs have signed an Early Day Motion showing strong, cross-party support for the Bill. Over 50 organisations have also signed up to the hill, including consumer groups (National Federation of Consumer Groups), health groups (Health Education Trust), trade unions (UNISON), supermarkets (Waitrose, Marks & Spencer, Sainsbury & Asda) and environmental organisations such as the RSPB.


  An Organic Targets Bill has also been presented to the Scottish Parliament. It is supported by 38 of the 129 Members of the Scottish Parliament, the largest support for a Private Members Bill. The provisional target is not less than 20 per cent by area of agricultural land is certified organic or in conversion by 2010. Several issues require resolving before the target can be confirmed:

    —  modulation has not yet been implemented in Scotland, as a result agri-environment schemes remain chronically under-funded, of which support for organic farming is just one element;

    —  the need to ensure conversion occurs all the way down the process line. For example, to allow upland farmers to realise the organic price premium by finishing their stock on organically certified lowland farms.

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