§ Mr. Livingstone
To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what recent assessment he has made of the extent of unmet consumer demand for organic farm produce; for what reasons organic farmers were included in the latest EC set-aside scheme; and if he will take steps to remove organic farmers from EC set-aside arrangements.
§ Mr. Curry
Demand is difficult to estimate in such a small market but it is clear that there is potential for growth in the organic sector as shown by the high level of imports. We are keen that United Kingdom farmers and growers should meet that demand.
Under the EC rules, the new arable area payments scheme must be open to all growers who meet the relevant scheme conditions, including the set-aside requirements. It is not possible to remove organic growers from these arrangements.