A feed survey carried out by the Department of Agriculture’s organic farming unit estimates that over 60,000t of feed will be required for winter 2024/2025.

There were 912 responses to the survey, which is believed to provide a good representative sample of the overall figure of 5,000 applicants.

The Department predicts, based on these replies, that overall demand for concentrates will be in the region of 33,000t, 20,000t of straights and 6,000t for protein crops such as a pea/barley mix for example.

In addition, it is estimated that 50,000 bales of fodder will be required to feed all stock on organic farms.

Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Senator Pippa Hackett, welcomed the results of the organic feed survey, highlighting that it will help inform planting decisions this spring.

“This survey shows growing demand for organic feed of all types to meet requirements for the winter 2024/25.

“Results show consistent growth following the organic feed survey carried out last year as regards demand for concentrated feed, straights and forage,” she said.

Tempting tillage farmers

It is hoped that the demand for organic feed will tempt more tillage farmers to consider converting to organic farming.

Minister Hackett said: “Organics and tillage have been highlighted in FoodVision as an opportunity for farmers.

“These results show the growing demand for organic feed and the opportunity to increase the area of organic tillage in Ireland. There is an opportunity for an organic Irish mill as the sector continues to grow.”

Survey metrics

The survey was carried out among the approximately 4,000 farmers in organics before the recent intake of about 1,000 new entrants to organics.

Some 40% of survey participants have full organic status, with the remaining 60% in conversion.

The majority of respondents have beef (76%) or sheep (43%) enterprises, while 12% have a tillage enterprise, 4% poultry and 3% dairy.

There was a good geographical spread, with survey responses received from farmers in every county.

The largest numbers were from Roscommon, Galway, Kerry, Cork and Donegal, tallying with the highest participation in these counties.

The 5,000 participants in the Organic Farming Scheme will represent 5% of Ireland’s utilisable agricultural area in 2024, with the Department commenting that it is well on target to hit 10% by 2030 as part of Ireland’s Climate Action Plan.