The organic farming unit in the Department of Agriculture sent a survey out to approximately 4,000 Organic Farming Scheme (OFS) participants on 27 December 2023.

The survey, which closes on 12 January 2024, aims to quantify the likely demand for organic feed and, in turn, provide information to growers in making informed decisions regarding planting in 2024.

Farmers surveyed can choose to give permission to have their individual data shared with organic growers.

The objective here is to help develop direct relationships between livestock farmers and growers whereby growers have greater insight as to a guaranteed outlet for their produce and growers can source domestically produced organic feed.

Demand signals

The information will also be anonymised, collated and shared with industry bodies such as Teagasc, organic certification bodies and the feed industry to provide insights as to the likely demand for feed.

A high percentage of the 4,000 participants in the OFS are suckler, beef and sheep farmers.

Concerns have been raised at some organic events and farm meetings regarding the availability of organic feed.

The feed industry has moved to allay any fears of feed shortages, with organic feed being imported to fill the gap in domestic production. Quantities of organic feed purchased by organic producers are relatively small, with feed costing upwards of twice the price of conventional feed.

Research and dissemination

It is hoped that more clarity surrounding the level of demand for organic feed will trigger increased domestic production.

The level of funding devoted to organic advisory bodies and for research has increased significantly.

A significant challenge for the sector is for OFS participants to become more self-sufficient and for producers to adopt a more holistic approach, including livestock farmers producing more feed on farm where feasible.

Read more

€1.3m for new Teagasc organic beef and sheep blueprint project

€1.1m split between 12 projects for promoting organics