UK organic farming area "not rising in line with market demand"

The area of organically certified fruit and vegetable growing in the UK fell slightly last year, while the overall figure for organic farming fell for the sixth year in a row, new Defra figures reveal.

Image: HW
Image: HW

The area of organic vegetable and potato production in 2016 fell by 1.2% to 10,200ha, while fruit and nut production stayed roughly stable at around 1,900ha.

There was a more marked fall of 7.5% in "herbaceous and ornamental" growing. But there was a slight increase in land in conversion as a percentage of total organic land, which now covers a total 508,000ha.

Soil Association head of farming Liz Bowles said: "As the market for organic food is growing very strongly in the UK (7.1 % in 2016), we are worried about the continuing drop in organic farmland.

"While we are seeing increasing applications from processors and producers alike who want to convert to organic, there is a lag between the time applications are made and when the conversion period begins. What is needed is confidence in the organic market, which can be met by long-term government support."

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