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Minister Sargent Welcomes European Commission Promotional Campaign for Organic Food and Farming

Mr Trevor Sargent TD, Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, today welcomed the launch of the European Union's new Organic Farming Campaign under the campaign slogan: "Organic farming - Good for nature, good for you", the promotional campaign aims to inform consumers about the meaning and benefits of organic farming and food production. The web-based campaign will focus on increasing consumer awareness and recognition of organic products, and especially on young people and children to carry the organic idea into the future. The website ( www.organic-farming.europa.eu) contains an electronic "toolbox" that provides marketing materials in 22 languages free of charge to professionals throughout the entire food and farming sector in order to promote organic production and farming.

The launch of this campaign is indeed timely for Ireland. The Programme for Government sets down an ambitious target of 5% of the land area to be under organic production by 2012. At present Ireland is at 1%, with over 43,000 hectares being farmed organically. In April Minister Sargent launched the Department's Organic Farming Action Plan 2008-2012 in response to the Government commitment. "Access to information is a key driver in the development of the organic sector and this new website will be a very useful addition", Minister Sargent said.

In the last few years, the number of organic operators - farmers, producers, processors and importers - has grown strongly. In 2005, there was a total of 182,305 of these operators in the EU-25, a 13.4% increase from 2004. In recent years, the European organic retail market has experienced strong growth of between 5 and 30%, depending on the country. Increasing consumer demand is strengthening the organic market and giving farmers and processors new opportunities.

The European Commission will present the Campaign at the upcoming National Organic Food Conference on September 4th 2008 in the Waterford Institute of Technology. The Commission also announced a competition to develop a new EU organic farming logo that is due to become mandatory on all organic pre-packaged food from July 2010.

For more information on the Organic Farming Campaign: "Organic farming. Good for nature, good for you." please visit www.organic-farming.europa.eu.

Date Released: 29 July 2008