Organic growers welcome retention of grants
Organic farmers have welcomed the Government decision to retain both the Organic Farming Scheme and the Organic Grant Aid Scheme for next year.
The Irish Organic Farmers and Growers' Association (IOFGA) said the maintenance of the schemes reinforced the Government's commitment to the sector.
"The number of organic producers continues to increase steadily here in Ireland. However, it is still not on par with the volume of organic food consumed here," said IOFGA development officer Grace Maher.
"Sales of organic food continue to grow even in these difficult times. To date, in the last quarter of 2010, sales are up considerably on the same period last year."
Ms Maher pointed out that organic food consumers wanted produce that was grown locally and insisted that this offered a genuine market for Irish farmers and growers.
"It is essential that the Government continues to support the development of the organic sector so that more organic food [that is] consumed in Ireland is produced in Ireland," Ms Maher said.
"We need to reduce our dependence on imported organic food. There is a strong market for Irish organic food both here in Ireland and abroad. Farmers need to take up the challenge to produce for this growing market."