Organic farmers require more feed than a recent Department of Agriculture survey suggests, the IFA organic project team chair John Fitzpatrick has said.

Last week, the survey of over 900 farmers found that the demand for organic feed and straw is to soar – with 60,000t of feed required for next winter.

Fitzpatrick told the Irish Farmers Journal that “the people that responded to the survey were probably very accurate with their figures, however the number of respondents is only one-quarter of the farmers in organics”. Some 5,000 farmers are enrolled in the scheme, and 912 responded to the survey.

“It has to be taken into consideration that there is much higher demand than what the report suggests.”

He added that “only 3% of the respondents were dairy farmers, so therefore the figures given in the survey are not a true representation of all organic farmers’ feed requirements for the year ahead”.

Fitzpatrick, who is also an organic dairy farmer from Laois, said “that combination crops are a very good feed, but in a lot of cases additional protein is required.

Protein crops are very difficult to grow as they are susceptible to weeds, so rotations are highly important for organic tillage farmers”.

The project team chair added that “there is an opportunity for organic bodies or Teagasc to provide a nutritionist to help farmers to make up their own balanced ration on their farms”.

“The cost of organic nuts is €200 more than conventional nuts, which is not sustainable for organic farmers. The organic trading hub is an advantage, as well as agreements between growers and farmers are the way forward,” Fitzpatrick said.

Fitzpatrick emphasised that “in general, straw is in huge demand by organic farmers for bedding purposes because they also see that as a fertiliser.

“If the wet weather continues into April we could see shortages; however, organic crops are mainly spring crops.”


There is a lack of competition in the organic market, Fitzpatrick said.

“The store cattle prices are matching that of conventional cattle.

“The farm gate prices are being brought back for all of the sectors and are getting too near the conventional prices,” the organic project team chair concluded.