'Organic tillage is a no-brainer, but supports needed to help change'
State support for organic farming must be reintroduced to stimulate the sector, a leading producer has said.
Irish organic farmers cannot meet the demand from retailers for oats and milk and the Organic Farming Scheme (OFS) has been closed since 2015.
"In tillage and dairying there's a market there crying out for more operators and because the organic scheme is closed nobody is coming into it," said Pat Lalor, the farmer behind Kilbeggan Organic Porridge.
Speaking to Agriculture Minister Michael Creed, he said Flahavans has to import organic oats and the milk producers cannot meet the growing demand for organic formula.
Lalor said the support scheme, which spreads payments to farmers over five years and is crucial in the initial two-year changeover period, need not be opened to cattle and lamb producers.
Lalor converted his farm to organic in 1999 and now grows at least 80 acres of winter oats each year, in addition to his 150-acre organic cattle enterprise.
On his arable land he runs a two-year winter oats and red clover rotation system.
He takes two cuts of silage each year and fertilises his own land by cutting and mulching the red clover regularly.