Organic red meat development in Wales


Much of the recent expansion of organic farming in Wales in associated with red meat production. Of the 56,621 hectares that will be fully organic by 2004, probably 80% is permanent grassland (assumption from Soil Association OFFR, 2002), the majority of which will be associated with beef and lamb production. The following factors suggest that the development of a strategy (which may encompass several sub strategies) for the red meat sector in Wales, to include production, processing, retailing, and consumer awareness, is vital to minimise disruption to the developing sector: · Most of the organic red meat production in Wales is new. · Other regions of the UK are seeing similar increases organic red meat production. · The retail market for organic red meat in the UK as a whole is relatively new and untested. · The organic red meat retail market in Wales is small. · Import channels for organic red meat have been established. Due to land area still in conversion in 2003 (much of which is in second year conversion) and the long production cycles for red meat in general, but particularly beef, 2004, 2005 and 2006 are still likely to result in increased organic red meat coming onto the market. One significant unknown factor is the risk that some producers may choose to revert to non-organic farming as their Organic Farming Scheme agreements come to an end in 2004 and 2005. This decision is likely to depend on the success of the organic system on their farm at that time and whether viable options exist outside the organic sector. Factors affecting the viability of the organic farming system will focus on profitability from production (access to good prices and costs of production), and income from the first (direct support payments) and second (agri-environment) pillars of the CAP. This report concentrates on the key issues important in maintaining organic red meat production system profitability and stability, but also recognises the influence of direct support and agri-environment payments

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