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Scotland’s Organic Action Plan launched

Date Published: 31/03/2011

The Scottish Organic Action Plan has been launched, giving a strong platform to farmers and recognition of the benefits of organic production.

Scottish Rural Affairs Cabinet Secretary, Richard Lochhead, launched the long-awaited Organic Action Plan at TIO near Forres, Morayshire.

ORGANIC FUTURES is a joint Scottish Government and Scottish Organic Industry statement to develop organic food and drink in Scotland. The Action Plan recognises the multiple benefits of organic food production: from producing quality Scottish food and contributing to climate change policy to across-the-board environmental advantages including biodiversity, soil and water protection.

Speaking at the launch, Mr Lochhead said: “The action plan comes at an exciting time for Scottish Food and Drink which is now enjoying increased consumer recognition thanks to the work being delivered under Scotland’s first National Food and Drink Policy.

“Our ability to produce high quality products lies at the heart of this success with many producers pulling together to meet market demand for fresh, season and local foods.”

He praised the “innovation, expertise and developments” of the organic sector, and said it was an exemplar for the supply chain for minimising its fertiliser and pesticide use.

The actions concentrate on three primary areas: Supporting organic production, Sustainable growth of the organic sector and Understanding Organics. There are many continuing actions in the plan that recognise the on-going efforts of the sector, but the most significant announcement has been the introduction of a Land Managers Option for Organic Maintenance (available in 2011) and that organics will be a National Target for all Rural Priorities proposals.

Debs Roberts, SOPA Development Manager, said: “National Target status is extrememly welcome news for the sector. It means that organic proposals will have a realistic chance to improve on the current 50% success rate in Rural Priorities. We have continuously stressed our concerns to Scottish Government about this and while it has been a long wait, we are very pleased to see organics as a National Target.”

The Scottish Organic Forum represents all major organic bodies in Scotland and wrote the action plan in conjunction with Scottish Government.

Richard Jacobs, Chief Executive of Organic Farmers & Growers, one of the UK’s leading organic control bodies, said: “This is a very welcome move by the Scottish Government. It recognises the importance of organic agriculture and will provide reassurance for existing Scottish organic farmers, and those coming into the sector, that the Government believes in what they are doing and has put the framework in place to actively support them.”

Click here to read Organic Futures

Information courtesy of SOPA