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Minister Hackett launches “Growing Organics” Farm Monitor Programme

Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Senator Pippa Hackett has launched ‘Growing Organics’, a new programme focused on supporting and increasing organic production.

Annual funding of €150,000 is being provided by the Minister’s Department and Teagasc for the next 5 years to support the programme. Organic demonstration farms have been selected throughout the country to illustrate best practice and monitor key financial and environmental metrics. Providing up to date technical advice to organic farmers is a key objective of the National Organic Strategy 2019-2025

These organic demonstration farms will focus on

  • Grassland management
  • Livestock nutrition
  • Animal health & welfare
  • Financial management
  • Environmental sustainability and
  • Crop management

The ‘Growing Organics’ Programme is a five year programme led by Teagasc, and will promote the adoption of best practice at farm level to increase the future viability and sustainability of the Irish organic sector. The results from the activities on the demonstration farms will be made available to all farmers and researchers to significantly improve the data available on different aspects of organic farming.

Minister Hackett said; “We had record attendances at our Organic farm walk programme in 2022 including a National Organic Beef Day last September. I would like to thank all those organic farmers who have held farm walks over the past number of years. The organic farm walk programme has been reviewed by Teagasc and ourselves.  We are certain the best approach is a Farm Monitoring programme to examine and report how Organic Farms evolve and perform over 5 years, particularly with regard to soil health and profit monitoring. Along with €256mn CAP funding this is a key part of the infrastructure needed to support the record numbers choosing to switch to organic farming. “

The Minister continued “Farmers need to know what are the changes required when they make the switch to organic farming. Like any farming systems there are challenges to be overcome and these will be openly discussed and potential solutions provided to farmers as part of this programme.”

Director of Teagasc, Professor Frank O’Mara said; “We are delighted to be working with the Department of Agriculture and the organic demonstration farmers on this joint programme. I thank the farmers for participating, because this programme will allow other farmers interested in converting to Organic farming and those already farming organically to learn from these demonstration farmers who are implementing best practice and who are operating organic systems that are economically, socially and environmentally sustainable. This group of demonstration farmers will host farm walks and act as information hubs for other farms to learn from and follow. They will work closely with our Teagasc organic specialist team and our team of specialised organic advisors in the regions.”

The ‘Growing Organics’ programme will focus on a number of key objectives:-      

  • Increase the adoption of best practices, especially in relation to grassland management and livestock health; 
  • The environmental footprint of organic production;
  • Establish a cohort of profitable organic producers;
  • Create greater integration within the organic sector
  • Support the sector reaching 10% of land area farmed organically by 2030

New Farm Monitoring model

The Farm Demonstrations will involve 4 regional farm walks per annum between May and November. The walks will be spread across the main farming enterprises of beef, dairy, sheep, tillage and will be geographically dispersed based on participating farms.

These demonstrations will be jointly run and will be resourced and staffed by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Teagasc and Bord Bia.

An information booklet will be provided to attendees and Information Boards will be signposted at the farm and involve presentations from Teagasc on selected topics.

In addition, the 6 new organic advisors appointed by Teagasc in the last 12 months will organise approximately 24 farm walks across the country to allow farmers to attend local events. 

These walks kick off on Tuesday 4th April and full details are available on the Teagasc website.