Gillian Westbrook from IOA discusses potential options for tillage farmers who are considering converting to organics.
Read the full atricle by Catriona Murphy from the Farming Independent.
Tillage farmers consider the organic option
Tillage farmers are examining the option of meeting greening requirements in the new CAP regime by converting some of their land to organic cereal production.
Organic farming association IOA has reported an increase in enquiries from conventional tillage growers about converting to organic cereals.
“We’ve had 20 farmers over 50ha in size contact us in the past three months,” remarked Gillian Westbrook, manager of IOFGA.
“While the lower conventional grain price would have to be having some input into the decision, their main interest seems to be compliance with CAP greening.”
Ms Westbrook said she believed tillage was the area of organic production with the most growth potential.
“There is a very obvious and established market for organic cereals, with demand for organic oats for porridge and growing demand for feed for organic beef, sheep and dairy,” she maintained.
The Department of Agriculture Action Plan launched recently identified a shortage of organic cereals as a major obstacle in the way of organic livestock expansion.
John Flahavan of Flahavan’s said he expected organic oat crops to yield 1.2t/ac this year, with prices around €350-360/t.
Flahavan’s has an annual requirement of 6,000t of organic oats for its porridge brands, with some 75pc of this coming from Ireland and the remainder imported.
“Our aim is to become 100pc self-sufficient in Irish oats,” he said.
However, he added that there were opportunities to grow other organic cereals as well as oats.
“When you look at the price farmers are paying for imported organic compound feeds, there has to be room to replace some of that with Irish cereals,” he insisted.