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Visit to the Organice Centre, Rossinver, County Leitrim

'Government will continue to support organic farming because of its contribution to farm incomes in meeting consumer demands and the beneficial effects on the environment and animal welfare' – Minister of State, Shane McEntee TD

The Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Shane McEntee TD, restated today the Government's commitment to continuing its support for organic farmers.  The Minister was speaking during a visit to the Organic Centre in Rossinver, County Leitrim. Minister McEntee said: "We will continue to promote organic farming because of the contribution it can make to farm incomes while meeting consumer demands and the beneficial effects it has in protecting and improving the environment and enhancing animal welfare".

The Minister of State continued, "Farming and our indigenous food industry are fundamental to an export-led economic recovery. The organic sector may be small in the overall context of farming but it has a role to play in economic recovery. At the end of February, the Irish organic market was estimated to be worth almost €100 million. This is a decrease from €124 million in 2009 but recent research shows that this decline is slowing and that organic vegetables and organic yogurt have increased their share of the organic food market. The message is clear - even in these difficult times, there is a consumer demand for organic food which must be maximised to its full potential"

The potential of the Organic Sector is outlined in the Food Harvest 2020 Plan which points out the importance of building and marketing Ireland's green image. The proposals presented recently by the European Commission on the future of the Common Agricultural Policy are very positive in relation to the Organic sector and they include a proposal for a 'stand alone' Organic farming support measure. The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine provides a number of supports for investment in organic farming including the Organic Farming Scheme and on-farm and off-farm capital grants schemes. Bord Bia and Teagasc also provide significant support through National Organic Week and the National Organic Awards and the demonstration farm programme.

"In recent years, I am pleased that we have been able to provide more than €220,000 in financial support to the Organic Centre in Rossinver. As Minister with responsibility for the organic sector I will do my utmost to ensure that our support budgets for the sector are maintained as far as possible into the future. However, against the background of the urgency of fixing the Government's finances - when money and budgets are tight - it is always going to be difficult to provide sufficient finance to keep everyone happy", the Minister of State said.

NOTE FOR EDITORS:

Schemes and services operated by the Department and state agencies in support of the organic sector

  • The Organic Farming Scheme provides payments for the conversion to or maintenance of organic farming.
  • The On-Farm and Off-Farm Capital Grant Schemes for the development of the Organic Sector have allowed farmers and processors to access much-needed assistance to help develop their businesses.
  • National Organic Week and the National Organic Awards are co-ordinated by Bord Bia and funded by my Department.
  • Teagasc runs the demonstration farm programme, which is funded by the Department, continues to go from strength to strength.  Approximately 1,200 people attended the demonstration farm walks this year.

The Organic Centre, Rossinver, County Leitrim

The main aim of the centre is to promote organic gardening and sustainable living through training, demonstration and the provision of information. From 1995, their services have been developed to include:

  • Demonstration organic gardens with 7 polytunnels, an orchard, outdoor gardens, ornamental beds and woodland.
  • A full time, FETAC accredited Level 5 certificate course in Organic Horticulture training students in the skills of small scale commercial organic vegetable and fruit production
  • A menu of weekend courses covering organic vegetable and fruit production outside and in polytunnels, sustainable living courses including alternative energy, sustainable self-build, cookery and a range of traditional crafts.
  • Co-ordinating and supporting Community Gardens and School Gardens on both sides of the border. Supporting new Community Gardens through the free download of our 'How to set up a Community Food Project' Guide
  • Bringing people together from both sides of the border and the community to learn and garden together Operating a Green-Organic-Help-Line providing information over the 'phone wherever possible to support small scale growers.
  • An onsite eco-shop and online sales of organic seeds, high quality gardening tools, informative reference books on organic gardening and for healthy eating.

Funding of The Organic Centre, Rossinver, County Leitrim by the Department of Agriculture

  • December 2006 - €45,000 grant assistance for the expansion of Community Food Project, titled "Growing in Confidence". Participants, under the guidance of an experienced organic gardening mentor, learned to grow their own organic vegetables, and with the help of trained tutors, also learned to prepare and cook healthy, fresh produce. The project was initiated in 2004, in partnership with HSE West, and has involved parents managing a tight budget, asylum seekers, older people and people with disabilities.
  • 2008 payments - €172,000 grant assistance under the Organic Marketing Plan for the production of an Organic Guide, funding towards a Horticulture Training Programme and the Development of Accredited Organic "Master Grower" Apprenticeship Scheme.
  • April 2008 - €1,880 grant assistance for purchase of rotovator
  • October 2010 - €981.50 funding for SEED (Schools Environmental Education Development) leaflet.
  • October 2011 - €500 funding towards cost of local promotional event, to coincide with National Organic Week.

Date Released: 21 November 2011