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Organic Opportunity May Hold Hope for Ireland

08 April 2009

IRELAND - The Teagasc National Organic Conference heard that the market in Ireland for organic produce is now worth €104 million per year, but potential growth in beef and dairy could make that figure much higher.

The overall organic market in Europe is worth over €16 billion with the largest sales in Germany, the UK, France and Italy. Organic produce enjoys a high market share in countries like Denmark, Austria, Switzerland and Sweden.

Dr Nic Lampkin, director of Organic Research Centre, Elm Farm and senior lecturer at Aberystwyth University and author of “Organic Farming” presented a paper on the UK and European market situations. He said that market growth is expected to continue but at a slower rate. Just over one per cent of the land area in Ireland is devoted to organic production by 1,100 farmers, which is less than the average of five per cent of EU land area used for organic production. Government policy is to increase organic food production to five per cent by 2012.

Organic farming is particularly suited to beef and cereal farmers and can increase profit on many farms. There are a number of factors which make organic farming more profitable that conventional, including achieving a premium price for produce, maximising organic scheme payments and minimising the use of expensive inputs.

Teagasc organic specialist James \McDonnell said that the net margin from organic beef farming is, on average, higher than that obtained on conventional beef farms. He said that organic milk production is financially attractive to farmers up to a stocking rate of 1.7 livestock units per hectare. He pointed out that excellent margins can be achieved from producing cereals organically on tillage farms.

Teagasc organic specialist, Dan Clavin outlined the financial planning needed by farmers prior to converting to organic production. He said that the switch to organic farming may be the biggest farm management decision ever taken by an individual farmer and careful panning is essential. He pointed out that the vast majority of organic farmers have no regrets after converting.

TheCattleSite News Desk



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