Rise in organic cattle and sheep

Numbers of organic cattle and sheep increased between 2009 and 2010, the latest statistics from Defra have confirmed, despite a fall in organic farming overall.

The figures show that organic cattle numbers increased by 6% in the 12 months to 2010 to 350,000, while sheep numbers were also up 11% to 981,000. This was largely as a result of new entrants in the market.

However organic pig and poultry numbers continued to fall, although the decline flattened considerably compared to the sharp decline in 2009, which was attributed to rising production costs. Pig numbers fell by only 4% to 47,000, compared to a 32% drop the previous year, and organic poultry was down by 2%, to 3.9m birds, compared to 9% in the previous year.

The Defra figures showed that, overall, the organic farming sector had shrunk, with cereals and vegetables each declining by 5%, and pasture land showing comparatively little change since 2009. Total numbers of organic producers fell for the second year running, down 4% to 7,300, with the largest percentage drops being in Northern Ireland and the north west of England.

Soil Association figures released in April showed that sales of beef rocketed by 18% while the remainder of organic products fell during 2010, down 5.9% to £1.7bn.  

>Organic beef bucks downturn trend


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