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Minister Sargent welcomes organic research findings

Following National Organic Week (22-28 October 2007), Trevor Sargent TD, Minister of State for Food and Horticulture, has welcomed the findings of research which show that, in general, organic foods contain high levels of beneficial compounds, such as vitamins and anti-oxidants.

Minister Sargent said "Findings by researchers on the EU Quality Low Input Food project at Nafferton Farm in Newcastle-on-Tyne, England, show that organic produce contain relatively high levels of beneficial compounds.

"I welcome these findings and I look forward to hearing more from this project. Ireland's production must keep up with growing consumer demand if Irish farmers are to reap the benefits of organic conversion and if Irish consumers are to have access to affordable organic foods. Therefore, I am urging Irish farmers to examine the commercial opportunities that exist with organic conversion.

"Recently, I visited Austria, which has demonstrated that affordable, high quality, locally-grown organic food is an attainable goal, even in competitive markets."

"I want to reiterate my own personal commitment and that of this Government, to developing the organic sector in Ireland. We are making progress in the right direction.

"The number of Teagasc Organic Advisors have increased from one to four. I have launched the new Organic Farming Scheme to encourage producers to respond to the market demand for organically produced food, increasing payment rates by approximately 17% compared to comparative rates under REPS 3.

"As well as payments to farmers, we in the Department also offer significant development grants both to farmers and to processors under the Schemes of Grant Aid for the Development of the Organic Sector.

"The continued growth of community gardens and other horticultural enterprises can only help to lessen the amount of imported organic produce required and it is clear that there is a ready made market here for local, seasonal food.

"Consumers are getting the message that organic is good for you: it is time for farmers to respond to that demand."

31 October 2007

NOTE FOR EDITORS

Minister Sargent will be addressing the AGMs of the Organic Trust and IOFGA on 4 and 18 November, respectively.

Date Released: 31 October 2007