Discussions at the Organic Producer Conference at Cirencester last December revealed a fundamental dilemma regarding the availability of the Organic Entry Level Scheme grants, in particular the conversion element. Mark Measures, director of the Institute for Organic Trainers and Advisers (IOTA) wonders if the market is being distorted?>BR>
It is agreed that the OELS is funded because of the environmental benefits of organic farming. It is therefore not unreasonable to argue that the grants should be available to anyone who wishes to avail themselves of the scheme. However, it is wholly irresponsible and indeed counter-productive to provide incentives for the conversion of additional land if that is likely to result in over supply and collapse of the market. This would destroy the financial viability of both newcomers and well-established organic farms alike and result not in a net increase in the area of organic land, but a decrease as farms go out of business and revert to conventional farming.