DEFRA minister Michael Meacher said he would give the multiples seven years to reach the target set by the government of sourcing 70% of applicable organic products from the UK.
Giving the Lady Eve Balfour Memorial Lecture at a Soil Association meeting, the environment and agriculture minister said he would review levels with the multiples, in a bid to achieve the target by 2010.
The government's action plan to develop organic food and farming in England, published in July, said imports accounted for 70% of organic sales of lines that could be sourced in the UK. In contrast, domestic producers supplied 74.7% of the UK's conventional food. The report set a target to bring organic in line with conventional products.
Meacher reaffirmed DEFRA's commitment to the expansion of production in the light of the Policy Commission on the Future of Farming and Food.
He added that a recent DEFRA report showed that organic production was an energy-efficient alternative to conventional farming. Production of organic arable crops used 35% less energy and dairy 74% less energy per unit than their conventional equivalents.

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