Organic Farming in the UK

The organic industry in France has grown 2 fold in the last 5 years. However the amount of organically managed land in the UK has fallen. Only 3.5% of agricultural land in the UK is organic. On the flip side 2014 has shown an increase in sales of organic food here but this is the first increase in 4 years.

Europe is the largest consumer of organic food and European countries have many schemes in place to assist farmers who chose organic and environmentally sympathetic practices. However farmers in England must apply to different schemes.

Lack of government support

We’ve just blogged about the New Environmental Land Management Scheme. This may introduce positive incentives for farmers, encouraging them to make choices that favour the environment. However while we’re waiting for this scheme to be developed other countries in Europe will benefit from new Rural Development plans from January 2015.

This shows that the English government has been slow to come up with better schemes that support English farmers.

Between January 2015 and 2016 the disparity between schemes available to English farmers and those available to other European farmers will be greater. This will undoubtedly put English farmers under a lot of pressure and will probably make organic farming less and less attractive.

The lack of payments from stewardships over that year will discourage farmers from improving habitats within their lands.

Demand for organic is high

As we mentioned at the top of this post sales of organic food has gone up in the UK. The demand for organic meat, produce and dairy is particularly high in the South West.

Interestingly for us the sale of mail-order organics rose by 11% between 2012 and 2013. Consumers have a growing interest in food provenance. Buying directly from farms allows the consumer the greatest insight into how their food is produced. The mail order model is a modern method of buying from farms that appeals to a fast living generation.