The Chairman of the IFA Organics Project Team Nigel Renaghan has acknowledged the increased funding of €256m for organics under the new CAP proposals.
“It’s critical that the review of the Organic Food Sector and Strategy for its Development Report 2019-2025 is acted upon and implemented immediately,” he said.
The European market for organic products is expected to reach €86 billion by 2022. The current Programme for Government target is for Ireland to reach the EU average of 7.5%. “It’s clear that there are huge opportunities for the sector. I believe that public procurement will play an important role for organic commodities,” he said.
“IFA has lobbied extensively for increased funding to allow for the expansion of the organic sector. The outcome is a significant first step in maximising the opportunity for organic farming in this country. Currently, the majority of organic produce is imported,” he said.
All stakeholders, including Bord Bia and Teagasc, must work together to grasp the opportunity that organic farming offers. The sector is currently under-resourced in terms of market research, product research and development, and specialised advisory services.
Existing organic farmers must be rewarded and encouraged to continue farming organically. Under the new CAP, payment rates must be increased to €520/ha for farmers in conversion and €470/ha for flat rate payments. Organic farmers must not be excluded from any other environmental schemes under the new CAP.
“IFA is calling for the organic strategy 2019-2025 to be acted upon and implemented immediately and farmers must be fully engaged in this process. A whole-of-Government approach is needed to develop a farmer-friendly system that actively supports and encourages farmers to invest in organic farming,” he said.
Irish organic producers must be supported to ensure producers have the confidence to convert or expand their organic enterprises to access premium markets.