Welsh Organic Producer Survey
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In spite of organic sales dipping by 1.5% in 2012, the Soil Association predicts a positive future for the UK organic market. This report coincides with the release of the Welsh Organic Producers Survey, produced by Organic Centre Wales on behalf of Welsh Government, revealing trends and future challenges for Welsh organics. The Welsh Organic Producer Survey has revealed strong demand for organic meat, with sales of beef up by 32% and lamb up by 69% (for market ready lamb), as well as a 10.6% growth in sales of organic milk. Despite these figures, which were boosted by a number of Welsh farms completing their organic certification in 2011-12, there is a concern that the combination of pressure on organic feed prices and changes to support payments for organic farmers will force many of Wales’s organic producers to revert back to non-organic production over the next few years. (Picture: Organic vegetables in Wales)
The Welsh Organic Producer Survey also highlighted growth in direct sales during 2012, with almost a third (28%) of producers involved in selling direct to the public experiencing an increase in sales, while 55% reported no significant change. Meat (48%) and vegetables (29%) continue to dominate the direct sales market, with more than half (54%) of producers involved in direct selling relying on individual customers for over 80% of their turnover.
“Despite some encouraging sales figures reported by organic producers in Wales, there is no doubt that the changes to support payments are going to hit hard and organic output may suffer as a result,” said Neil Pearson from Organic Centre Wales. “We are working with a number of producers on innovative schemes that will enable them to offset some of the increases in feed costs and there is evidence that more organic farms are looking at ways to diversify to supplement their income from crops and livestock, but despite these efforts our survey found that confidence remains a major issue.”
The latest Welsh Organic Producer Survey found that 15% of organic farmers were considering reverting to non-organic methods over the next 12 months – a figure that has not risen above 3% in each of the four previous studies – and this rose to 47% when considering the next two years. General financial concerns such as high feed prices and dwindling premiums for organic livestock, especially lambs, were cited by 47% of those considering leaving the sector, while the future of agri-environment scheme payments for organic farming and uncertainty of CAP reform in general (34%) was the largest single concern. The survey can be found here: http://www.organiccentrewales.org.uk/