European Commissioner for Agriculture Janusz Wojciechowski did not mince his words when he lamented the “slow” take-up of organic farming in Ireland.
Speaking during a press conference on increasing organic farming under the next CAP, Wojciechowski said: “Ireland is one of the member states where the development of the organic farming is very slow and very small.”
A target of trebling the amount of organic land from 8.5% to 25% by 2030 has been set by the European Commission and the next CAP is seen as key to reaching this goal.
The target is EU-wide but every member state will be expected to contribute.
Ireland currently has roughly 2% of land certified as organic.
The Commissioner acknowledged that there were difficulties in gaining certification and one of the measures announced will be to allow member states to permit 'group certification'.
This will mean a number of small farms can come together and pay the cost of certification.
The Commission also believes that this will help to strengthen their selling power to consumers.
The Commissioner was passionate about smaller farms converting to organic and said that it would give many an opportunity to thrive and compete against more intensive farm models.
He said it would give smaller farms a chance to become organic and “exist or stop production because they could not compete with intensive production”.