Dáil Éireann - Volume 576 - 03 December, 2003
Written Answers. - Organic Farming.
Mr. Sargent Mr. Sargent
86. Mr. Sargent asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food if his attention has been drawn to the policy trend in other EU member states, such as Germany, which has set a target of 20% of agricultural land earmarked for organic production by 2010, which involves greatly increasing resources in training and education for both producers and consumers; and if he will consider learning from this policy and following it here. [29326/03]
Mr. Walsh Mr. Walsh
Minister for Agriculture and Food (Mr. Walsh):The organic development committee, in its report published last year, estimated that a target of 3% of land area in organic farming in Ireland by 2006 was feasible. The recently published census of organic production confirms that the land area under organic farming in Ireland is less than 1%. The census results will be analysed in the coming months, with a view to reviewing the preliminary target of 3% of land area under organic production by 2006.
While I believe that organic farming offers real opportunities to a proportion of Irish farmers, I see no point in setting targets which do not reflect market realities. Regarding training and education, the organic development committee recommended the establishment of a partnership expert working group to co-ordinate, facilitate and monitor the provision of training, education, advice and research. This group, which is chaired by Teagasc, was set up earlier this year and has made progress on a number of fronts. I have already accepted a proposal from the group to establish a network of demonstration farms and these will be up and running in the new year.
The organic market development group, another structure recommended in the report, is looking at developing a national label for organic produce. An information campaign aimed at consumers will be a part of this process.
Dáil Éireann 576 Written Answers. Organic Farming.