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Coughlan encouraged by progress in the Organic Sector

- The land area under organic production increased by 15% in 2005 -

The Minister for Agriculture and Food, Mary Coughlan T.D., receiving the third report from the National Steering Group for the Organic Sector from the Chairperson of the Group Mr John Duggan, recently said that she was encouraged by the fact that land area under organic production increased by 15% in 2005.

"I am encouraged by the increased interest in organic production, while it is from a small base nevertheless, it shows that farmers are seriously looking at the organic option".

The Minister noted that the market for organic food has grown rapidly in recent years. It was estimated to be worth €66 million at the end of 2006, up from just €38 million at the end of 2003. However, a large portion of this is imported and Minister Coughlan called on Irish farmers and processors to grasp the opportunity to substitute Irish produce for imports. She said there were generous supports for organic farmers through a special supplementary measure of the Rural Environment Protection Scheme (REPS) and that her Department offered 40% investment grants for both on-farm and off-farm investment.

Minister Coughlan also welcomed the three-year marketing plan for the organic sector produced by Bord Bia on behalf of the Department. She said she was looking forward to the second National Organic Week which this year will run from November 6th-12th. One of the highlights of Organic Week will be a conference organised by the Western Development Commission and Atlantic Organics Ltd., which will take place on Tuesday 7th November in the Landmark Hotel, Carrick-on-Shannon, Co Leitrim.

15 September, 2006

Notes for Editors

The National Steering Group for the Organic Sector is made up of representatives from the agri-food industry (including the processing and retail sectors), the organic certification bodies, the farming organisations, consumer interests and the State sector (Bord Bia, Teagasc and the Department of Agriculture and Food). The Chairman of the Steering Group is Mr John Duggan, formerly Chairman of Glanbia.

The National Steering Group, which first met in December 2002, was established to act as a driving force for the development of the organic sector, and also to provide a basis for advancing the partnership between the organic sector itself and the other principal essential interests.

The Minister for Agriculture and Food, Mary Coughlan T.D., has re-appointed the Group for a second 3-year term with Mr Duggan continuing as Chairman. The Group's objectives in its second term are: -

  • to increase awareness among consumers of organic food and farming,
  • to increase the production base in Ireland, and
  • to seek to develop sustainable export markets as supplies become available.

The National Steering Group has two sub-groups, the Partnership Expert Working Group (PEWG) and the Organic Market Development Group (OMDG). Members of the National Steering Group chair both sub-groups.

The Third Progress Report of the National Steering Group for the Organic Sector can be found on the Department's website at www.agriculture.gov.ie

Date Released: 15 September 2006