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Huge sigh of relief as Welsh organic support continues

Date Published: 05/08/2011

Confirmation that organic producers in Wales will continue to be able to access support funds have been met with delight across the sector.

Maintenance payments for organic producers, which have historically been available, were absent from the Glastir land management scheme when it was first conceived.

However, the Welsh Assembly Government has now confirmed that mechanisms to allow continued access to this support are being put in place, both for the current scheme, until its end in 2013/14, and with a targeted organic maintenance fund within Glastir from 2014, subject to EU approval of the move.

The development is neatly described by Organic Centre Wales on its website: “In a key change, farmers will no longer have to join Glastir to access organic support. Instead, farmers already in the Organic Farming Scheme (OFS) will be offered extensions to their existing agreements which will take them up the end of the current RDP period. In addition, windows for applications for conversion support will be open later this year and in 2012, both for farmers considering organic management for the first time and for existing organic farmers to increase their organic land area.”

The move was announced by WAG Farming deputy minister Alun Davies and has been welcomed by sector bodies, including Organic Farmers & Growers.

OF&G Chief Executive, Richard Jacobs, said: “There has been a collective sigh of relief breathed at this announcement. There were some who foresaw the decimation of the organic sector in Wales if robust and structured support was not included in future planning.

“Along with many groups and individuals we have been contributing to the dialogue and it is to the credit of the Welsh Assembly Government that it has listened and acted in the most appropriate way.”

Welsh Organic Group Member, Glastir Review Member and organic beef and sheep farmer, Keri Davies, said: “We asked the Minister to give confidence in the future to the organic farmers of Wales – confidence to continue to invest in organic production and make business plans and decisions over the next few years. We are delighted that he has given the sector a clear message that organic farming is a strong part of the future of farming in Wales, and we welcome his statement. He has obviously listened to the views of ourselves and others such as the farming unions in making this announcement.”