Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM), Pippa Hackett, addressed the challenges of encouraging dairy farmers to embrace organic farming during a visit to Zoetis on Friday, November 3. Minister Hackett highlighted that the high price of milk in the past year made it difficult for most dairy farmers to consider switching to organic farming. However, with the current market price of milk stabilizing, Minister Hackett believes it may give dairy farmers some food for thought. The minister’s remarks were made during a tour of Zoetis’ expanding manufacturing facilities in Tullamore, Co. Offaly, on One Health Day, which aims to recognize the interconnectedness of human, animal, and environmental health.
Minister Hackett expressed her concerns about the challenges faced by dairy farmers in terms of organic processing facilities and emphasized the need to address this issue. Drawing from her own experience as an organic farmer for the past decade, Minister Hackett highlighted the benefits and opportunities of organic farming, as well as the challenges it presents. She noted that the price of organic dairy has remained consistent over the past ten years, while conventional dairy prices have fluctuated. Minister Hackett also pointed out that the cost of fertilizers is only expected to increase, making it potentially beneficial for farmers to consider transitioning to organic farming.
The Organic Farming Scheme (OFS) is now open for applications and will accept submissions until December 8. To support organic farmers, the scheme offers an annual participation payment of €2,000 in the first year of conversion and €1,400 per year thereafter.
In addition to discussing organic farming, Minister Hackett also addressed the forestry outlook for the remainder of the year. She stated that the government has made significant progress in terms of forestry, with no backlogs in appeals or pending licenses. Minister Hackett mentioned that the government is currently working through the 13 recommendations of the ash dieback review. She acknowledged the impact of ash dieback on the forestry sector and its negative image and expressed her hope that a solution for affected owners will be reached in the coming weeks.
Minister Hackett’s visit to Zoetis and her remarks shed light on the challenges faced by dairy farmers in embracing organic farming and the need to address issues related to organic processing facilities. Her insights and experiences as an organic farmer provide valuable perspectives on the benefits, opportunities, and challenges associated with organic farming. The opening of the Organic Farming Scheme and the government’s efforts to address the forestry sector’s concerns demonstrate a commitment to supporting sustainable agriculture and forestry practices.