Brexit Could Result in Shift towards Organic Products

BREXIT could result in more Scottish farmers switching their attention towards organic production, according to a leading land expert.

Malcolm Taylor, Head of Land Management at Bell Ingram, believes that continuing uncertainty caused by the Brexit vote, coupled with the likely elevated environmental constraints introduced post-EU breakup, will make organic farming a more attractive option.

He feels that the growing evidence of consumer-led demand for organic and ‘superfood’ products will lead to more farmers focussing on the attractions of organic production.

Malcolm said: “There is no secret that organic farming is not for everybody, but with Brexit uncertainty, budget cuts and pressure on inputs, there might be an opportunity for increased organic production.

“There has already been a rapid growth in the establishment of blueberries in Angus, which reflects the interest in so called super fruits and healthy living.

“I am not advocating a complete swing to alternative production but with careful marketing, it might be that there is an expanding niche for organic production.”

Malcolm recently spent two weeks in Minnesota, and explored how other farmers employed different techniques in their areas.

Organic sales in Minnesota rank ninth in the US, with huge growth in the sector which is reflected across the country.

Back across the pond, in the UK, sales of organic foods grew by 7.1 percent in September.

The growing trend for health foods, coupled with the fact that farmers are likely to have to pay far more attention to environmental issues to qualify for subsidies post-Brexit, mean that many may consider cultivating organic produce.

Water quality rules are likely to become stricter, so a reduction in fertiliser and sprays will make organic production a more attractive option. In addition, good sward management will be the key to profitable cattle and sheep finishing.Malcolm continued: “Cost control is going to be ever more important post-Brexit.

“We are going to have to be more creative and adventurous, and if organic production grows, who knows what might follow?

“More free-range poultry and pigs, GM crops, minimum tillage for crops? What is clear, is that we can’t do something simply because it’s always been done that way.

“What Brexit has created is the drive for all of us to need to look at what we do and how and why we do it.”

Established 117 years ago, Bell Ingram has 130 professional staff across 11 UK offices including: farm, estate and forestry managers; chartered surveyors, estate agents, architects, planners, and building surveyors; and tourism, GIS mapping, and renewable energy specialists.

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Published on 9th January 2018