Boom time for Dutch organic farming

Organically managed area grows 10% in 1999 but remains well below government target

Organic farming in the Netherlands grew by a dynamic 10% in 1999, according to figures released by the national statistics agency. Nevertheless, the total area remained only just above 1% of all farmland, far below the agriculture ministry's target of 10% of farmland managed organically within ten years. A new plan for supporting the sector is expected to emerge this summer.

According to Statistics Netherlands, 21,500 hectares were grown without pesticides and fertilisers in 1999. Dairy farms are switching to organic ahead of the trend and accounted for 60% of the organic area last year. The Netherlands' large greenhouse growing sector also showed rapid growth in 1999.

On the other hand, the area of organic arable crops fell by 5%. According to the agency, this was caused by a very wet autumn in 1998, which made sowing winter grain difficult.

Follow Up:
Statistics Netherlands, tel: +31 70 337 5816; Dutch agriculture ministry, tel: +31 70 378 6868.

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