Scottish organic farmland area drops for eighth year in a row

Organic food sales increased by 20% in Scotland last year.
Organic food sales increased by 20% in Scotland last year.

The area of land in Scotland that is devoted to organic farming has fallen by 4% to just over 300,000 acres, or 2.2% of agricultural land, according to new figures published by the Government’s chief statistician.

This is the eighth consecutive drop in the area of organic land.

Falls in area were seen in grassland and rough grazing (down 4%), and potatoes and vegetables (down 1%), with a small increase in cereals (up 1%). Pasture makes up 93% of organic land in Scotland.

There was an increase in the number of organic cattle (up 16% to 29,000), but falls in the number of sheep (down 13% to 115,000), pigs (down 75% to 1,750), and poultry (down 8% to 241,000). There was also an increase in the number of licensed producers and processors, up from 539 in 2015 to 560 in 2016, of which 355 were producers.

The government figures also revealed a fall in the area of organic farmland in the UK as a whole, with 2.9% of agricultural land now organic.

The UK trend is in contrast to the situation in Europe where organic production is increasing. The latest available data, for 2015, shows more than 6% of agricultural land is used for organic farming.

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