HC Deb 17 July 1997 vol 298 c517
11. Mr. Corbyn

To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what plans he has to increase support for organic farming. [7285]

Mr. Morley

We have already made it clear that we want to encourage an expansion of organic production and we are considering the best ways of achieving that.

Mr. Corbyn

Does my hon. Friend recognise that many organic farmers have a sense of grievance? They feel that they are discriminated against by the Department and are forced to charge higher prices for their products because their concern for conservation of the soil and the natural environment in which they work is such that they are unable to use the high-growth fertilisers and pesticides that other farmers use. They feel that the pricing system militates against them. Will my hon. Friend ensure that that sense of grievance is dealt with and that they are treated on a par with organic farmers in other parts of the European Union?

Mr. Morley

Yesterday, the Government responded formally to the Select Committee on Agriculture, which made recommendations on organic farming. This morning, at the Agri-Environment Forum, I had the opportunity to discuss the issue with Patrick Holden of the Soil Association, who made a powerful case for more support. The Government want to see more organic conversion. The present structures have caused problems for farmers wishing to convert and we are reviewing them. Demand for organic produce is so strong that we are importing produce, but we wish to see British farmers meeting the demand with organic produce.

Forward to