An Organic Wales
Land area under organic management in Wales increased by 15% in 2007 and now amounts to some 90,000 ha on 800 holdings, that’s 6.3% of Welsh agricultural area.
That’s the findings of a survey by Organic Centre Wales (OCW) which shows organic farming accounting for about 4-5% of all Welsh production in 2007, ranging from 2% in the case of pigs to more than 10% of Welsh horticulture including potatoes. An estimated 7,000 finished cattle, 110,000 finished lambs, 70 million litres of milk, 830,000 dozen eggs and 4,000 ha of arable crops were produced organically.
However, the report shows that the organic sheep sector has been experiencing price pressures, as well as difficulties finding organic outlets for light and store lambs, reflecting concerns in the industry that the lamb market may have become saturated. Very high organic feed costs are also creating concerns across all sectors.
On the face of it, the prospects for expansion of organic farming in Wales look good – more than 300 farmers have applied to join the new Organic Farming Scheme, meaning that organic farming could grow to 8-10% of Welsh agriculture by the end of 2009. Nic Lampkin, Director of OCW and one of the report’s authors, cautions that this growth “could make it difficult for new producers to find a premium market for some of their products”.
But Dr Lampkin also notes that demand for organic produce is growing and there is time to plan and “make best use of policy support and develop strategies to exploit new market opportunities”.
The survey was carried out by postal and telephone survey in November and December 2007 with support from Farming Connect. Some 477 (67%) registered Welsh organic producers responded.