DEAR SIR: I refer to an recent article by Amy Forde on the front page of the Irish Farmers Journal on 23 July with the headline ‘Lump sum payments for farmers to go organic’.
While announcements increasing payments for specific schemes are welcome, this headline on the front page creates the impression that a bonanza exists for farmers switching to organic food production.
The fact is that the potential payment to the average farmer who changes to organic farming will be €12,330 per annum, which is about equivalent to the unemployment benefit. In addition, the upfront sweetener of €2,000 referred to will not even cover the cost that must be paid to a certifying authority (approximately €500 per annum over five years), not to mention the additional compliance costs.
Our primary function as farmers is to produce food that consumers want to buy and more and more, their wish is that it be produced organically.
However, this cannot be achieved unless the market returns a decent margin for organically produced food, which in my experience as an organic farmer, has not been the case to-date.