Dáil Éireann - Volume 524 - 25 October, 2000
Written Answers. - Organic Farming.
Mr. Sargent Mr. Sargent
137. Mr. Sargent asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Rural Development his views  on whether the common organic standard as developed by the three Irish organic bodies should be accepted as the Department's minimum standard in view of the fact that he has already acknowledged that the organic movement as currently constituted is doing a good job. [23348/00]
Mr. Walsh Mr. Walsh
Minister for Agriculture, Food and Rural Development (Mr. Walsh): Standards for organic crop produce had been fixed since 1991 by Council Regulation 2092/91. Under Regulation 2092/91 the Department, which is the competent authority under the regulation, had approved three private bodies to inspect and certify organic crop produce. There were no national standards for organic livestock produce. These bodies, in a private capacity, had also been certifying organic livestock produce to standards that they themselves had set.
When Regulation 2092/91 was supplemented by Regulation 1804/99 and extended to the livestock sector on 24 August, the Department had proposed to adopt standards for such produce in accordance with the regulations. However these standards did not include all the requirements recommended by the three private bodies, the Irish Organic Farmers and Growers Association, Organic Trust and Demeter Standards Limited. Following further discussions on this issue with interested parties including the three private organic bodies and other stakeholders in the organic sector, my Department has moved significantly to address a number of points of concern and other issues may be considered subsequently by the Organic Development Committee.
I value the expertise and commitment of the organic bodies and recognise the substantial input they have made to the development of the organic sector in Ireland including the development of proposals on a set of common standards. However in view of the early stage of the development of the organic sector in Ireland, where the supply of Irish organic produce is unable to meet the current demand thus necessitating a high level of imports of organic produce, it was not considered appropriate to accept all of the standards proposed by the organic bodies as the Department's minimum standards.
I am confident that the standards now being set for the organic sector will provide every reassurance to retailers and consumers as to the quality and integrity of Irish organic produce, without compromising the competitiveness of Irish organic producers. My objective is to ensure the continuing growth of the organic sector as part of mainstream farming in Ireland.
Dáil Éireann 524 Written Answers. Organic Farming.