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Country News - 2002

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Massive boost for organic food
Monday 29 July

THE GOVERNMENT will announce today announce a massive boost to subsidies paid to organic farmers - a move which will delight many country folk but enrage many more.

At present, Britain imports some 75% of its organic food - sales of which have been soaring in recent years - because growers in mainland Europe get much higher subsidy payments and can therefore supply cost-conscious British supermarkets cheaper.

This has led to a depressing survey by the National Farmers' Union that a third of British organic farmers are losing money. Many go out of business altogether when Government conversion grants for making the switch run out after five years.

Today, the Government will attempt to address that balance by switching millions of pounds to support organic farming - but it will come out of the £3.5 billion budget which at present goes to conventional farmers in production subsidies.

Inevitably, there will be winners and losers to today's announcement is likely to spark off one of the hottest debates in British agriculture for many years.

Tomorrow, Daelnet will carry more details and reaction to today's announcement.

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