HC Deb 18 December 2001 vol 377 cc279-80W
Mr. Wray

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what financial support there is for farmers who grow organic crops; and if she will make a statement on organic farming. [22864]

Mr. Morley

Support for organic farmers in England is provided in the main through the Organic Farming Scheme, which offers payments to fanner over a period of five years totalling from £50 to £450 per hectare according to land type. Supplementary payments totalling £600 per beneficiary are made towards the cost of training. The budget for this year's payments is £18 million, rising to £20 million in the next financial year.

Direct payments to organic farmers in other regions of the UK are a matter for the devolved Administrations. Organic farmers are also entitled to other payments under the common agricultural policy in the same way as their conventional counterparts.

In addition, the Department's Research and Development programme includes a large component dealing with research on organic farming. And there is a programme of free, on-farm advice to prospective organic farmers.

We wish organic farming to succeed and to this end have already committed £140 million under the England Rural Development Programme which should triple the organic farming area by 2006. To build on this, we intend to product a strategy for the future direction of organic farming when we have the report of the Commission on the Future of Farming and Food, taking account of any recommendations made by the Commission for this sector. The strategy will assess potential growth both for UK production and for the organic market, and will need to take account of the large variation between different products.