Organic food and farming are expected to be key focal points at the Royal Highland Show on 22-25 June, as the Scottish Government works towards its goal of doubling the amount of land which is farmed organically by 2026.

The Scottish Organic Stakeholders Group (SOSG) – an alliance for food businesses, farmers, environmental organizations, industry bodies and researchers – will host the discussion Where next for organics? in the Royal Highland Show’s Scottish Government marquee.

A commitment has been made by the Scottish Government to work with industry to develop a new Organic Food and Farming Action Plan; a project it is hoped will help inch Scotland towards its land targets. Another measure which is expected to help lead to more land undergoing organic conversion is the step taken by the Scottish Government this year to suspend the area caps for land that can be brought into organic conversion under the Agri Environment and Climate Scheme (AECS). In accordance with the scheme, and in line with new applicants, existing organic contract holders whose land exceeds caps will also see those caps lifted.

Figures released by Defra last week are promising, with Scotland’s percentage share of organically managed agricultural land having increased for the fourth year running. Up from 1.8% in 2021, organic now accounts for 2.2% of all farmed land. Over four years, organic land share has grown by 38%.

Ross Paton, chair of SOSG, comments: “There is a strong body of evidence to show that organic production can reduce global greenhouse gas emissions, increase on-farm biodiversity, sequester carbon and reduce soil erosion.

“The Scottish Government has recognized the environmental and market benefits that can be delivered by organic farming, and we welcome the commitment to doubling the land share.

“We must ensure that growth in the sector is sustainable, however, and that means focusing not just on land, but on other areas such as market development, public procurement and investment in processing capacity.

“This event at the Royal Highland Show provides an opportunity to discuss how we can deliver on the Scottish Government commitments around organic farming and what is needed to take organics from the margins to the mainstream.”

Image credit: The Royal Highland Show