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Farmers to get $2.2 million help to go organic

Farmers wanting to go organic will soon find it easier thanks to a $2.2 million three-year funding programme for an organics advisory service that will provide research and advice to farmers converting to organic production.

The announcement was made in Wellington today by Agriculture Minister Jim Anderton and Green Party Organics spokesperson Sue Kedgley. Funding of the advisory service was part of a post-election agreement between Labour and the Greens.

Mr Anderton said organics had developed a niche and was becoming an increasingly realistic option for farmers looking for alternative markets.

"The future of the New Zealand economy depends on agriculture, and we need to make the most of every advantage we have. One of New Zealand's natural advantages is the lack of many of the pests and diseases that make organic production a more realistic proposition here than it might be elsewhere."

Ms Kedgley welcomed the initiative and said: "At last we have a government that is willing to get behind this sector and help it to expand and grow."

"This initiative is aimed at encouraging several hundred farmers to convert to organics every year by providing them with advice and assistance.

"I am confident that, in the years to come, we will see a burgeoning of organic production as producers become better informed about organics and have more examples and assistance to help them solve problems," Ms Kedgley said.

"Where would New Zealand's traditional agriculture be today if it had not received this kind of support in its early years? This is about helping to develop a sustainable and flourishing organic sector in New Zealand."

The programme will be administered by Organic Aotearoa New Zealand, with funding administered by MAF. It involves $550,000 in 2006/7 and $800,000 in both 2007/8 and 2008/9.

ENDS

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