Organic Farming

Organic Farming is a specific system of farming that aims to produce quality food in a manner beneficial to the environment and to wildlife. Organic farmers practice farming in accordance with standards, which have been formulated for crop and livestock production. The thrust of these standards is to develop a system of farming that co-exists with other systems, sustains soil fertility and protects the environment, wildlife and non-renewable resources. The use of pesticides and herbicides is prohibited (www.organic-trust.org)

In 2005 there were 1,090 operators with 35,266 hectares under organic production in Ireland. By the end of 2007, this had increased to 1,334 operators and 41,122 hectares. Growth was helped by Government incentives, especially the Rural Environment Protection Scheme (REPS), but it still represented just 0.9% of the land area. This is much lower than the average in Europe, which is 4.3%. For full European data, see a 2010 report from the EU Commission 

The 2008 Programme for Government set an ambitious target to have 5% of Ireland’s land farmed organically by 2012. This target translates to 215,000 hectares, but will not be achieved. One of the main barriers is the costly conversion process, which requires farmers to prepare their land and their farming techniques for the changeover.

Organic farming

 

Farmers interested in converting to organic status should contact the Irish Organic Farmers and Growers Association (IOFGA), which provides certification for farmers, growers, processors and retailers (www.iofga.org). Consumers purchasing products that claim to be organic should check that it carries the required certification.

The Department of Agriculture has a dedicated section on organic farming.

The majority of organic milk produced in Ireland is sold through Glenisk, which is run by the Cleary family from Killeigh in Co Offaly. Fresh milk and yogurt are the main products of this award winning company (www.glenisk.com). Other major users of organic milk are cheesemakers, such as Kate Carmody’s Beal Organic Cheese (www.bealorganiccheese.com), Ralph Haslam’s Mossfield (www.mossfield.ie)

The main company involved in organic beef production in Ireland is Good Herdsmen, based in Co Tipperary (www.goodherdsmen.com).


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