Organic Farming in Ireland
Organic farming is a specialised system of farming where the aim is to produce high-quality food while ensuring the environment and its wildlife are protected. Organic farmers must comply with comprehensive rules and regulations that have been developed for sustainable crop and livestock production. The fundamental principles of organic farming are to ensure that soluble mineral fertilisers are prohibited in the production of food, and a high level of animal welfare must be adhered to.
Organic production is “An overall system of farm management and food production that combines best environmental practice, a high level of biodiversity, the preservation of natural resources, the application of high animal welfare standards and a production method in line with the preference of certain consumers for products produced using natural substances and processes.”
The land area of Ireland is 6.9 million hectares (2014), of which 4.4m hectares is used for agriculture and 0.73m hectares for forestry. 80% of the agricultural area is devoted to pasture, hay, and grass silage, 12% to rough grazing, and 8% to crops (including cereals, and fruit & horticulture production). Of the 4.4m hectares used for agriculture, 72,000 hectares are under organic use in Ireland.
Organic Farmers can access a range of services and information from the Department of Agriculture, Food, and the Marine (DAFM). In 2018, DAFM established an Organic Sector Strategy Group tasked with developing a strategy for the development of the Organic Food Sector for the period up to 2025, coinciding with Food Wise 2025. Food Wise 2025 is the over-arching strategy for the Irish food and drink sector to drive value for Irish agricultural produce. The overall objective of the strategy is to further develop a viable Organic Food Sector in Ireland, enhancing the sustainability credentials of Irish food, producing a wide range of organic products to meet domestic and export market opportunities.