Azara Blog: Soil Association whines that government is not doing enough for it

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Date published: 2011/02/11

The BBC says:

The UK government is not doing enough to support and promote organic food and farming, a report says.

The Soil Association said sales continued to grow in other European nations during the recession, while UK sales fell by 13.6% in 2009.

A government spokeswoman said there was scope for UK organic producers to grow if they became more competitive.
Peter Melchett, policy director for the Soil Association - which operates the UK's largest organic accreditation scheme - described the fall in sales, after years of continuous growth, as "really frustrating".
National Farmers' Union president Peter Kendall said he looked forward to organic and conventional farmers working more closely together, but warned it would be "dangerous" for the government to set fixed targets.

"I warn you from years of experience, governments meddling by saying what you should be doing with your businesses is not the way forward," he said.

"Get consumers to want to buy."

Referring to the recommendations outlined in the Association's report, he added: "You want the market to take you. You do not want the [government] to do it, because it is extra resources drawn from your business.

"Do not say that the government should have targets... it should be supply and demand."

Responding to the Soil Association's report, a Defra spokeswoman said: "Organic farming is one of the pioneering approaches to sustainable production and remains influential, but it's not the only one and it would not be right to increase taxpayer support for one particular sector.

"Many consumers make some purchases of organic produce," she added.

"It commands a premium price, but it represents less than 2% of the market. The opportunity is there for organic suppliers to build their market share by being competitive and customer-focused."

Needless to say, the Soil Association "report" is just a puff piece of self-promoting propaganda. Peter (Mond, 4th Baron) Melchett and the Soil Association have a direct financial interest in organic food (they make a huge amount of money certifying what is allegedly organic) and so are hardly impartial. In this case the NFU and Defra are spot on in their critique. Unfortunately the BBC buried this critique way at the bottom of a very long article, most of which is just repeating the Soil Association propaganda.

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