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In 2002, the Scottish Executive invited an Organic Stakeholder Group (OSG) to advise on the putting together of a Development Plan for the organic sector in Scotland . (Scottish Executive, 2002) The work of the OSG resulted in the publication of the Organic Action Plan (OAP) in 2003.

The Scottish Executive’s vision as described in the OAP is of a prosperous organic farming and food sector which ensures that, as far as possible, demand for organic products is met by Scottish producers, and which makes a strong contribution to the sustainable environmental management of Scotland’s agricultural land and water resources. Scottish organic products should meet at least 70% by value of overall Scottish consumer demand for products which can be sourced in Scotland .

The high percentage of upland conversion has not delivered the wider range of environmental benefits across Scotland that would be delivered by additional organic conversion of land on mixed and arable farms. The Scottish Executive’s aim is to support accelerated growth of organic farming where this can make the best contribution to environmental sustainability. A doubling of the area of arable land and improved grassland in organic conversion or production is aimed at, with a view to these areas comprising 30% of Scotland ’s organic area by 2007, against a current 15%. (Scottish Executive, 2003)

A problem that has been pointed out by the Soil Association affects certain long-standing organic farmers, who converted their farms before the start of the OAS in 1994, as well as many newly converted dairy farmers, who stand to loose out under the new Single Payment Scheme, which is based on former payments. The Soil Association estimates that organic farmers typically received 40% less CAP money than non-organic farmers. Hardship payments are available from SEERAD only for those who were in an agri-environment scheme during 1997 and 2002, if they can prove that they lost out on subsidies due to the obligations of their scheme (SSN, 2005).

A study into the organic farming system research needs for Scotland (Scottish Executive, 2005c), advised that SEERAD should re-focus its organic farming research programme to emphasise:

  • resolving producer and market constraints, and
  • gaining better information on environmental impact of organic production to aid policy direction.

The study highlights a number of constraints on the organic market in Scotland as well as technical issues that should be addressed. On questions of environmental standards and biodiversity, the following areas of research are recommended:

  • research actual practices on organic farms (stocking rates, species, manure use)
  • determine which explicit environmental benefits are desired by consumers and policy makers
  • determine whether, and how best, these benefits can be derived from organic farming practices.

The Scottish Executive is committed to advancing organic farming in Scotland and aims at increasing the self-sufficiency rate for products that can be sourced in Scotland to 70% by value. It is being advised by an Organic Stakeholder Group as well as the newly created Organic Stakeholders Marketing Group. There is still a need for better information on environmental impacts of organic farming in Scotland to aid policy direction.



Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH) 2005: Organic farming's wildlife boost; in Scottish Farmer 6/8/05

DEFRA (2000): Energy use in organic farming systems; External Website - Supplemental Result

DEFRA (2005): Organic Statistics; External Website

Organic Farming Centre for Wales (2004): Environmental and Biodiversity impacts of Organic Farming in the Hills and Uplands

SAC (2005): Organic farming website; External Website

Scottish Executive (2002): Membership of Organics Stakeholder Group External Website

Scottish Executive (2003): Organic Action Plan; External Website

Scottish Executive (2004): First Organic Annual Report; External Website

Scottish Executive (2005a): Organic Annual Report – not yet published

Scottish Executive (2005b): Organic Aid Scheme External Website

Scottish Executive (2005c): An Evaluation of Organic Farming System Research Needs for Scotland . External Website

Soil Association (2000): The Biodiversity Benefits of Organic Farming; External Website

Sustainable Scotland Network (SSN) (2005): Pioneering organic farmers 'to miss out under new CAP payments'. In: Newsletter No 53, May 2005; External Website

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