Are Irish farmers are missing out on organic opportunities?

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Margaret Donnelly

Margaret Donnelly

Irish MEP Sean Kelly has said that most Irish farmers are ignoring a huge new market for their produce by turning their backs on organic farming.

He said that just 1.7pc, this country and Romania have the lowest area of organically farmed land in the entire EU.

The average percentage of agricultural land devoted to organic farming in the 27 member-states is now 7pc.

Mr. Kelly says this is a huge missed opportunity because Irish farmers have to look for new markets and new products to replace any vacuum left after Brexit. Some 12m hectares in the EU are farmed organically.

Four EU countries are way ahead of everyone else as far as organic uptake is concerned: France (12.9pc), Italy (15.1pc), Spain (16.9pc) and Germany (9.5pc).

In a survey carried out by Eurostat last year, over 70pc of those respondents said that organic produce was healthier, better and safer than food produced using conventional methods.

The market for organic produce in the EU, he said, has increased by 48pc in the last 4 years and is now worth €30 billion every year.

Meanwhile, the European Parliament is voting this week to tighten up existing rules and make the transition to organic farming easier for small producers in particular.

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MEPs will debate the new rules this week and vote on them the following day. Once formally adopted by Parliament and Council, the new regulations will enter into force on January 1, 2021.

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