APRIL 16, 2008: Almost half of all organic produce sold in British supermarkets is imported, according to the NFU’s Farming Outlook.

Farming Outlook has studied the organic sector for the first time and shows this growing market now occupies around 619,000 hectares of land in England and Wales. The UK has one of the largest organic markets in the world accounting for more than 10 per cent of the overall global market.The quarterly report, compiled by the NFU’s economics team, looks at each of the farming sectors and, in line with growing world population and unpredictable weather patterns affecting harvests across the continents, it predicts the global consumption for wheat will exceed supply this year.Burgeoning input costs will continue to pose problems for all sectors of British agriculture and horticulture. Despite rising beef and sheep prices in recent months, the livestock sectors continue to be particularly affected.Director of policy Martin Haworth said: “Feed prices continue to have a dramatic effect on the livestock sectors, particularly poultry and pigs, where substantial increases in prices at the farm gate are needed. There has also been an increase in the demand for chickens produced free range or organically.”For horticulture the poor weather and the floods from last year continue to have an impact on potatoes, with planting delayed by bad weather. There are calls for a 20 per cent rise in the prices paid for field vegetables and although the sector reports mixed fortunes, there has been a 15-20 per cent increase in costs of production for all growers in just three seasons. Overall the horticultural sector has been particularly affected by the dramatic rise in energy prices.”This report is set against a backdrop of slowing growth in the UK economy and continued rises in input prices, with diesel is reaching record levels. However, a weak pound against the euro is expected to continue playing a positive role on farming incomes and land prices remain strong.”

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