The Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers’ Association (ICMSA) said clarification was needed on the economics of organic farming.
This follows the announcement by the Minister of State for the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine (DAFM), Pippa Hackett, on Wednesday July 20, of the proposed new tariffs for farmers participating in the scheme. organic farming (OFS).
The new rates are subject to approval by the European Commission as part of ongoing discussions on the approval of Ireland’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) Strategic Plan.
ICMSA Vice President Denis Drennan welcomed the improved payment rates, which include an annual participation payment of €2,000 in the first year of conversion and €1,400/year through the after.
However, he said, unless the economy of organic farming stands tall, it will not grow as a sector.
Drennan, who is also chairman of ICMSA’s agricultural and rural affairs committee, said the relevant authorities “need to be honest with farmers in this regard”.
He noted that conventionally produced products such as dairy, beef and lamb currently fetch more than their organic counterparts in the market.
“It is essential that before inducing farmers to embark on a new business, markets are identified for organic products which will, and this is essential, offer a price to organic farmers which will provide them with a good income for their efforts,” Drennan said.
“ICMSA is concerned that we are inducing people to enter a sector without an identifiable market in place, which would be extremely detrimental to those affected, but also to the organic sector at large.
“At this stage, ICMSA believes Minister Hackett should ask Teagasc to develop revenue projections for organic farming businesses,” he added.
Drennan also suggested asking Bord Bia to do a full market analysis, including likely market returns.
“Publish the results and let farmers make the decision to go organic based on all the facts.
“In the past, with diversification options, we have encouraged farmers to turn to sectors where the market has not materialized, it is extremely important that we do not make the same mistake again,” he said. he concluded.