A new report from the Soil Association shows the UK is bottom of the league when it comes to support for organic food and farming. 'The Lazy Man of Europe' report launched at the Soil Association’s national conference, asks the Government to wake up to what Europe can teach the UK about backing organic food and farming.
Most European countries have acted confidently to normalise and champion organic food and farming as a pioneering, sustainable and environmentally friendly way to produce food. In contrast, UK governments have been diffident, if not lazy on the subject. When it comes to thinking in a truly sustainable way about the future of food and farming, successive UK governments have preferred to sit back and snooze, doing very little to back the organic sector.
The global production of organic food is set to grow substantially, with the organic market frequently cited as one of the most significant growth markets in the food industry, yet sales of organic in the UK suffered in the recession whilst other large markets in Europe did not. The organic market in Austria, Denmark, France, Germany and Switzerland continued to grow in 2009 despite the recession. These are countries where governments and official agencies think it normal to back organic food and farming, and the benefits are clearly recognised.
Peter Melchett, Soil Association policy director, said: “The Coalition Government has pledged ‘to be the greenest government ever’ and the new Agriculture Minister, Jim Paice said recently that organic principles lead the way on sustainable farming, and that organic farming should be fostered for this reason. The results of our investigation provide a blueprint for the new Government to live up to its pledge, and to move the UK from the bottom of the European league table when it comes to backing organic.”