12 June 2023
Stakeholders group puts issue in the spotlight as highland show approaches.
THE Scottish Government’s aim to double the amount of land farmed organically by 2026 will come under the spotlight at an event at the Royal Highland Show.
A discussion on ‘Where next for organics?’ will be hosted by the Scottish Organic Stakeholders Group (SOSG) in the Scottish Government marquee at 12.30pm on Thursday June 22.
The SOSG is an alliance of farmers, food businesses, environmental organisations, researchers and industry bodies, and was set up in 2020, replacing the former Scottish Organic Forum.
The Scottish Government has committed to working with the sector to develop a new Organic Food and Farming Action Plan to help meet its land target.
New figures released by the UK government’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) last week revealed that the percentage share of agricultural land managed organically in Scotland has increased for the fourth year running.
Organic now accounts for 2.2% of all farmed land, up from 1.8% in 2021. That equates to a total of 110,900ha (including 18,000ha in conversion) in 2022, up from 103,9000ha in 2021. Organic land share in Scotland has grown 38% in just four years from 1.6% of farmed land or 92,000ha in 2018.
This year, the Scottish Government has suspended the area caps for land that can be brought into organic conversion under the Agri Environment and Climate Scheme (AECS). Existing organic contract holders with land in excess of the caps will also have the caps lifted in line with new applicants. This is expected to lead to more land entering organic conversion.
Chair of the Scottish Organic Stakeholders Group, Ross Paton, said: “Organic farming is part of the solution to the climate and nature crises and ticks all the boxes for the Scottish Government’s vision for sustainable and regenerative agriculture. There is a strong body of evidence to show that organic production can reduce global greenhouse gas emissions, increase on-farm biodiversity, sequester carbon and reduce soil erosion.
“The Scottish Government has recognised the environmental and market benefits that can be delivered by organic farming, and we welcome the commitment to doubling the land share.
“We must ensure that growth in the sector is sustainable, however, and that means focusing not just on land, but on other areas such as market development, public procurement and investment in processing capacity such as local abattoir provision.
“This event at the Royal Highland Show provides an opportunity to discuss how we can deliver on the Scottish Government commitments around organic farming and what is needed to take organics from the margins to the mainstream.”
The SOSG event at the Royal Highland Show, Ingliston, Edinburgh, will be from 12.30pm to 1.30pm on Thursday, June 22 in the Scottish Government marquee.
Click here for more details of this and other forthcoming events of interest.
Photo: Monica Grabkowska