The Scottish Organic Producers Association (SOPA) yesterday announced that the country's organic farmers would benefit from a grant of £100,000 over two years from Scottish Enterprise. The money will be used for a number of projects, including the creation of a Scottish organic brand and logo and the appointment of an organic development.
The grant follows an earlier announcement that SOPA would receive £60,000 from the Scottish Executive to finance a Scottish Food Quality Certification programme. At present, most organic food in the UK is certified by the Soil Association based in England, and many Scottish producers are keen to have their own programme.
However, SOPA said that every organic producer in Scotland, including those whose products were certified by the Soil Association, would be eligible to use the new logo after it appears at the Highland show in late June.
The idea is to create a strong brand with the double advantage of being both Scottish and organic, the organisation said.
It had been hoped that the Scottish and English organic associations could work together to the betterment of the organic industry throughout the UK, but the two groups have often been at loggerheads over issues such as organic conversion - many Scottish farmers have converted to organic production for pragmatic reasons, such as the generous grants, rather than out of any great conviction that organic farmer is somehow better, as the Soil Association is sometimes accused of suggesting.
Organic Scotland, a body set up to act as a link between the two associations, folded last year as a result of these irreconcilable differences.