§ Mr. Janner
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (1) whether he will make provision for the payment of grants to farmers for experiments into the improvement of organic farming methods;
(2) whether he will make resources available in Government-financed agricultural institutions for the expansion of research into the extension and improvement of methods of organic farming.
§ Mr. Donald Thompson
Grants are already available under the agriculture improvement scheme for investments in organic farming to farmers satisfying the general eligibility conditions of the scheme. Although the scheme does not make specific provision for grant-aid to experimental projects, my Department undertakes or sponsors a range of work of relevance to organic farming, including nitrogen fixation in white clover, the production of crop varieties which are resistant to pests and diseases, and the development of novel non-chemical methods of pest control. The Department has monitored soils, pests diseases and crops on a commercial organic farm and is funding a research project on the nitrogen balance and nitrogen cycle in organic farming systems. If the industry wished to see additional work undertaken, the Agricultural Development and Advisory Service would be pleased to consider proposals for further research commissioned and paid for by the industry.