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Last Updated: Wednesday, 28 February 2007, 18:48 GMT
Farmers aim for home-grown sector
Organic free-range turkeys
The executive says it is committed to supporting organic farmers
Farmers in Scotland now produce enough organic food to meet 70% of consumer demand for home-grown products, according to the Scottish Executive.

Deputy Environment Minister Sarah Boyack said this compared to a 35% estimated level in 2002.

However, the Soil Association Scotland said the latest figure mainly related to organic meat and other food types were well below this level.

The Scottish Greens said the executive's claims were "make believe".

The minister was announcing the publication of the third annual report on progress towards the executive's 2003 Organic Action Plan.

Ms Boyack said: "The opportunities for Scottish organic producers and retailers are clear.

"The UK organic market now stands at 1.6bn, an increase of over 30% on last year compared to the annual current growth for all UK food and drink sales of around 3%.

The organic action plan is not working because the executive has not bothered funding it
Mark Ruskell MSP
Scottish Green

"We are committed to working with the industry to develop the Scottish organic sector even further."

However, Hugh Raven, director of Soil Association Scotland, said the executive needed to make a much bigger commitment, and called for a new action plan to be introduced after the May elections.

He said: "Demand for organic produce in Scotland is growing at over 20% each year - but the level of support for organic farmers, at 5.5m in 2007, is the same this year as in 2003.

"It's simply not good enough that in 2006, two-thirds of organic farmers applying for continuing support and a third of applicants for conversion assistance were rejected by SEERAD.

"These figures put the executive's apparent achievements in a very different light."

Green MSP Mark Ruskell also questioned the executive's success.

"Farmers are missing out on opportunities to benefit from a growing market because of penny pinching and a lack of ministerial leadership.

"The organic action plan is not working because the executive has not bothered funding it."

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