Memorandum submitted by The Organic Food
and Farming Targets Bill Campaign (A45)
Please find enclosed a response to QUESTION
2 of the above inquiry: how better stewardship of agricultural
land can be promoted.
You will not be surprised to hear that the Organic
Targets Campaign believes that better stewardship can be promoted
via an organic action plan, with a target of 30 per cent of agricultural
land to be organic by 2010. Measures that we recommend, such as
an on-going stewardship payment for organic farmers are contained
in the following paper.
As you know the Minister has already agreed
that an organic action plan should be put in place and you recommended
a more strategic approach in your organic inquiry report from
last year. However for the action plan to be successful, it must
set some sort of targets (or "bench-marks"). How else
will we be able to judge its success?
In summary an action plan and targets are needed
for the organic sector to ensure that:
The organic sector develops sustainably
rather than with the damaging boom and bust economic cycle so
often seen in British farming.
Production keeps pace with market
The high level of organic imports
in the UK reduces.
Retailers can source more of their
organic produce from the UK and thereby support British farmers.
A level playing field for UK farmers
develops as other European organic farmers benefit from greater
Organic food becomes more accessible
to people on low incomes.
Please do not hesitate to contact me if you
require more information.
The Steering Group of the Organic Food and Farming
Target Campaign's (OTC) response to the Committee's inquiry will
focus on how better stewardship of agricultural land can be promoted,
and why an organic action plan and target is urgently required
for the development of the organic sector. We believe this would
help to secure a sustainable future for UK agriculture.
Who we represent:
The steering group for the campaign
consists of Elm Farm Research Centre, Friends of the Earth, HDRAthe
Organic Organisation, Pesticides Action Network-UK, Soil Association,
Transport & General Workers Union (RAAW), UNISON and WWF-UK.
Sustain: the alliance for better food and farming, is the secretariat
for the campaign.
118 organisations, ranging from supermarkets,
such as J Sainsbury, to statutory agencies such as the Countryside
Agency, environmental groups, trade unions and small farmers'
groups also support the campaign. Together these organisations
have a combined membership of over three million people.
A majority of backbench MPs in the
last Parliament also supported the campaign.
(a) in the short-term?
1. The Government should support the policies
put forward by the Organic Target Campaign
1.1. This calls for:
An action plan for organic farming;
30 per cent of agricultural land
in England and Wales to be organic by 2010. The achievement of
the above aims must be done in such a way as to:
Make organic food more accessible
to more people;
Increase the availability of locally
produced organic food;
Keep the organic market on a sustainable
path of growth;
Keep market growth and production
1.2. An action plan for organic farming
1.2.1. The Government should adopt a strategy
for the development of the organic sector that is supported by
the organic sector and all stakeholders. The market for organic
food must grow sustainably, and currently much headroom exists
for the supply of UK organic produce to increase. However in order
to avoid over-supply and drop-outs from conversion and to ensure
the sustainable growth of the sector, the Government must begin
the process of putting in place an action plan for organic food
1.2.2. In May 2001 European Agriculture
Ministers, including the UK's Junior Minister Elliot Morley MP,
signed a declaration in support of a European action plan. This
must be taken forward.
1.2.3. In the short term a "task force"
or steering group could be set up, similar to that in Wales and
Northern Ireland, made up of representatives of the whole of the
food chain and key interest groups. For each area an expert could
be contracted to consult widely and prepare proposals for the
action plan. They should work in close co-ordination with each
other and under the guidance of the task force. The proposals
drawn up should build on the organic action plan that is already
in place in Wales.
1.3. TARGET FOR
1.3.1. A Government target should be adopted
for organic farming to:
Align policies for the different
areas of the organic sector so that all areas develop at similar
Give direction to all sectors of
the food chain (producers, processors and retailers) so that they
can enter the organic market and plan with confidence;
Encourage joined up thinking across
The target should be 30 per cent of agricultural
land to be organic in England and Wales by 2010.
UK ORGANIC MARKETSHORT
1.4.1. Information barriers
Support for the efficient dissemination
of organic research results
Development of an initiative for
the national supply of organic market information
1.4.2. Supply chain barriers
Development of statutory rules governing
the relationship between retailers and organic suppliers
1.4.3. Market development barriers
Adoption of public-purchasing policies
for organic food by public bodies and agencies such as schools,
hospitals, prisons, civil service and local authorities
Further development of network of
organic demonstration farms for visits by schools
1.4.4. Financial barriers
provision of sufficient funding for
the Organic Farming Scheme (OFS) to ensure that 30 per cent will
be organic by 2010. To achieve a 30 per cent conversion with support
provided as under the existing Organic Farming Scheme will cost
a minimum of £796.5 million to 2010 or £79 million/year.
This figure is calculated with current payment rates and is therefore
a minimum figure.
increase the rates for certain sectors
such as arable and horticulture, reflecting the true costs of
developments of proposals for stewardship
schemes, providing on-going support. They should be based on the
public benefits that organic farming provides.
1.4.5. Standards barriers
development of a network on organic
standards development within and between EU Member States.
public education and information
on the organic standards.
1.4.6. Social and Institutional barriers
a communication initiative within
the farming sector for both policy makers in Government and practitioners,
including training, events, secondments, seminars, combined with
visits to organic farms.
the review of all government literature
on agriculture to ensure inclusion of information and promotion
of organic farming.
1.4.7. Recommendation for overcoming intensive
CAP should be reformed so that financial
support is moved away from production support towards rural development
and agri-environmental support. This would encourage more organic
and sustainable farming.
(b) in the medium to long-term?
Once the task force is in place, the process
of consultation should start. Whilst the Organic Target Campaign
cannot foresee the outcome of the consultation, the following
ideas have been identified as long-term possible solutions to
the barriers holding back the growth of the organic sector.
To ensure that the organic sector grows in a
structured and sustainable way a main feature of the organic action
plan must be the linkages between the different parts of the organic
sector. For example market growth and production must be kept
in step, supply chain improvements should be linked with the development
of local and regional marketing and production and information
services should also be linked.
2.3 Recommendations for overcoming barriers
to the growth of the organic marketlong term
2.3.1. Information barriers
an increase in the organic research
budget to 30 per cent of the Government R&D budget.
development of regional support centres
to provide farmers with access to technical and marketing support.
making advice and training an integral
part of organic conversion, including market planning.
identification of training needs
of farmers, and embark on long-term action to fulfil them. This
could include a mentoring system.
2.3.2. Supply chain barriers
development of a network of local
regional initiatives for the development
of marketing co-operatives and other collaborative projects for
amendment of EU fruit and vegetable
standards to take account of low input farming systems including
2.3.3. Market development barriers
regional initiatives for local and
regional distribution of organic food (for example farmers' markets,
box schemes, community supported agriculture, links between schools,
hospital and local farmers).
the inclusion of modules on food
production and nutrition in the national curriculum.
public information on organic farming
principles, practices and benefits.
2.3.4. Financial barriers
developing capital grant schemes
The Government should also consider:
Increasing the money raised from
"modulation" (removing some of the production related
subsidies currently paid to farmers). This would provide more
funding for the Rural Development Programme, which should be used
to support organic farming, or more sustainable methods of non-organic
farming. This should be graded or stepped so that the largest
farmers who receive the highest subsidies bear the brunt of modulation.
A pesticides tax could help internalise
the external costs of agriculture and fund more environmentally
friendly farming practices, including organic farming. The ECOTEC
study, commissioned by the Department of the Environment, Transport
and the Regions (DETR), predicted that £84-£131 million
per year could be raised from a pesticides tax in the UK. This
money would allow for a significant boost to the organic conversion
scheme or stewardship schemes, and could also fund the R&D
programme referred to above. It could also be used to fund advice
to farmers on how to reduce their reliance on pesticides.
2.3.5. Standards barriers
improvement of decision-making processes
for legal standards development nationally and internationally,
in partnership with the organic movement.
2.3.6. Social and Institutional barriers
development of a network of regional
centres to provide local support to farmers considering and undertaking
In the long-term the CAP must become
a policy for sustainable food production and rural development.
It should support agricultural systems that do not depend on external
19 December 2001
26 This figure does not take account of changes the
campaign would like recommended to the scheme such as higher payments
for horticulture, and arable land, and potential on-going organic
stewardship schemes. Back