The Scottish Organic Forum held an open workshop on the 10th of July at SAC Craibstone, to discuss the future of the organic sector in Scotland. Many local farmers attended, along with Nigel Miller from NFUS, Frank Strang, Scottish Government and Professor Lorna Dawson, the James Hutton Institute.Laura Stewart, Director of Soil Association Scotland, reviewed organic action plans launched last year in France and Finland, as a useful comparison to the UK and Scotland respectively. Similarities and differences were drawn between these countries and our own, fuelling discussions about the future direction of the organic sector in Scotland. Across the rest of Europe, organic retail sales have grown by 25% since 2008, and increasing sales in the last year in both Scotland and the UK provide key opportunities for Scottish farmers and growers, particularly with the next round of SRDP funding just round the corner.
A Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT) analysis of organic production in Scotland was carried out by attendees in order to get a picture of where we currently are. Breakout groups then considered where we can go next: identifying possible targets, actions, and ideas for the next Scottish Organic Action Plan. This will be developed by the Scottish Organic Forum and the Scottish Government over the next few months, with an open consultation planned during the autumn, and launch in early 2015.
Finally, Professor Christine Watson led the group around SRUC’s long term organic rotation trial, part of which is run as a stockless system with very little inputs. This part of the trial has held up its yield far better than anticipated, mainly through making good use of undersowing clover.