HC Deb 23 February 1995 vol 255 cc473-4
7. Mr. Jacques Arnold

To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what voluntary schemes now exist to encourage organic production methods.

Mr. Waldegrave

My Department launched the organic aid scheme for England on 1 July; it aims to encourage a three-fold increase in organic produce over the next few years.

Mr. Arnold

Bearing in mind that organic farming has the same effect in terms of volumes produced as set-aside, but in the process produces high-quality food—that is particularly noticeable at Luddesdown court in my constituency—and bearing in mind that most of the organic food for sale in Britain comes from abroad, what is the Government doing about research and development to improve that industry?

Mr. Waldegrave

I thoroughly support the implication of my hon. Friend's question. This Friday, I shall be visiting one of our best-known organic farmers to have a look at the industry. He is quite right about the importations. My guess is that about two thirds of the organic food we eat in Britain is imported, and we should be producing it here. That is why my Department is putting over £1 million this year into research to support the organic movement, as it is vital to get the underpinning of the industry right at the beginning.

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