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Last Updated: Friday, 4 February, 2005, 12:33 GMT
Farms 'lagging on organic food'
Organic pigs
Farmers are urged to go organic to boost a growing market
Only 7% of farms in Britain's largest and most productive agricultural region are "organic", a new report says.

The Soil Association says East Anglia is lagging behind in the supply of organic food to a market which has topped 1bn for the first time.

This year's Organic Food and Farming Report also reveals more consumers are buying this produce in smaller outlets.

Many farmers would like to go organic because of the growing demand but are put off by the commitment.

Suzanne McBride who has an organic pig farm near Cambridge, is one of the newcomers boosting numbers in the east.

'Sales growing'

Her herd of pigs has just received its certification as 'organic'.

She now has to ensure they are reared outdoors, fed food free from additives, and never injected with drugs to keep them healthy.

Ms McBride is delighted with her achievement of setting up her operation.

"It's really exciting and a recognition of what we have done so far. It means that we have achieved a high standing in the market.

"When we sell to customers we have a prestigious badge which says we are organic," she said.

The region's MEPs want extra funding to encourage more farmers to convert.

Richard Howitt MEP said: "Supermarkets are stocking more organic produce and sales are growing.

"There's no doubt organic food is becoming more popular. If the trend continues, it'll mean more choice on the shelves, and more animals reared naturally on our farms.

"We are looking for more financial support for farmers here," Mr Howitt added.

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