'I am much better off financially after making organic switch'
The key question coming from farmers is whether organic farming is economically viable. With 1.3pc of farmers in Ireland certified as organic, and an ambitious target of 5pc set under Food Harvest 2020, it is difficult to account for such a low conversion rate here.
Average EU rates are at 6pc, with some countries, such as Sweden at a 20pc production levels, so what is holding Irish farmers back?
Organic farming is often perceived as non-commercial farming. However, that was clearly not the message given by a variety of organic farmers and industry leaders, who spoke at Coolanowle Organic Farm recently.
Discussions at the event, hosted by IOFGA, was on the theme 'Economics of Organic Production and Market Prices'.
John Purcell, from The Goodherdsmen, and Rory Fanning from Slaney Foods, outlined the growing demand for Irish organic beef both at home and in the export market.
The Goodherdsmen is seeking an additional 1,000 calves for 2014 so the company will be actively sourcing weanlings.
Slaney Foods are also processing organic lamb, one third of which goes to the French market. In 2012 there were 981 organic cattle farms (non-dairy) and 41,381 organic cattle (non-dairy) in Ireland.
This represented an increase of 19pc in cattle farms and a 38pc increase in cattle numbers since 2007.