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British in need of organic feed ingredients

Shortages of organic feed ingredients have been predicted for several years in the United Kingdom.

Over the last 10 years, the number of organic livestock enterprises in Britain has grown faster than organic arable production. As a result, organic livestock producers have to rely on imports, particularly from other EU countries.

Drought conditions in some parts of Britain led to forage shortages now affecting organic dairy farms. Several factors have now combined in early 2007 to create severe shortages of organic feed ingredients.

Despite record high prices, United Kingdom demand for organic feed, especially organic poultry feed, is continuing to grow, says Graham Loveday, organic sales manager for Marriages, a flour and feed miller which sells 20% of its feed to organic producers.

Poor grain harvest
Europe's poor grain harvest last summer, together with stricter EU standards, have raised prices for organic cereals to new levels, with wheat selling at up to £280 ($550) per ton.

The EU requires the organic content of animal feed to increase from 80 to 85%, and 95% for organic ruminant feed.

"The biggest demand for organic feed is from poultry producers responding to the growing popularity of organic chicken and turkey with consumers," says Loveday.

"But we are also seeing significant growth, too, in our sales to small farms producing beef, pork, lamb and eggs for farmers markets and sales direct from the farm."

We do purchase an increasing proportion of our needs locally. But like other compounders, we also rely on imports and although Kazakhstan has now released another 40,000 tonnes of organic wheat, the supply situation remains tight at least until harvest."

Strong growth in US
In the US, the organic industry overall is growing at the rate of 15-20% per year, according to Simmons Grain Company in Salem, Ohio, as livestock producers are becoming increasingly aware of the benefits of organic production and the premiums for organic products and consumer demand is growing.

Simmons processes around 27,000 tonnes of organic soybean meal per year. Some soybean farmers in the northern U.S. and Canada are attracted by the opportunity to obtain $18-20 per bushel ($ 660 - 735 per ton) for food-grade organic soybeans.

Organic feed grade (such as stained) soybeans fetched $12-15 per bushel last year. Organic soybeans frequently average over 30 bushels per acre (2 tonnes /ha) and revenues for organic soybeans can be over $500 per acre for a successful organic soybean crop.

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