Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Business People Are `Turning to Organic'

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Business People Are `Turning to Organic'

Article excerpt

Byline: By Anna Lognonne

Business people fed up with the urban rat race are turning to organic farming as a way of recreating "The Good Life," according to a Defra commissioned study published yesterday.

Most of them are young, highly qualified and are bringing in fresh ideas to the agricultural industry, says the University of Exeter report.

And organic farmers in the North-East say the national picture is being mirrored in the region, with organic producer meetings in Northumberland and County Durham featuring lively debate and inspirational ideas.

A team from The Centre for Rural Research surveyed more than 640 farmers and found that 31% of those entering organic farming had never worked in the industry before ( compared with 21% for non-organic farms and 25% for all farms.

Report co-author Dr Matt Lobley said: "It's somewhat surprising that almost a third of those people choosing to go organic had never farmed before. We think this reflects an increasingly popular lifestyle trend which is in part helping to shape the rural economy."

Comparing organic farmers with their conventional counterparts also revealed a big difference in age structure and educational background. Just over half of the organic farmers questioned hold a degree or diploma, compared with 30% of those in non-organic food production. And organic farmers are significantly younger, 66% were aged between 35-54 whereas in non-organic the figure is 45%.

Otterburn-based organic farmer Steve Ramshaw came to the industry with a background in construction and management, but he says that many of the qualifications he gained from this industry are applicable to agriculture and it has enabled him to assess his farming business from a different viewpoint.

He said: "Anyone coming into the industry will take a look at the farming industry and think there is no way I've got the experience of some of the region's established farmers and if they are struggling to make money, what chance have I got? …

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