Speaking at Zoetis today (Friday, November 3), Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) Pippa Hackett explained the “challenges” of getting dairy farmers involved in organics.

Minister Hackett said that this time last year, or earlier this year, the price for milk was high, and that there was “no consideration” for the vast majority of dairy farmers to switch to organics.

“Now the price might be a little bit more at where it naturally sits, so that might give food for thought for dairy farmers,” Minister Hackett said.

The minister spoke at a tour of Zoetis in Tullamore Co. Offaly, which welcomed the opening of the company’s expanding manufacturing facilities.

The day marks One Health Day, which recognises the connection between the health of people, animals and the environment.

Minister Hackett told Agriland that issues surrounding organic processing facilities are causing challenges for dairy farmers, and that it needs to be looked at.

The minister said in her experience of being an organic farmer for the past 10 years, she knows about the benefits and opportunities, but also the challenges in the area.

Minister Hackett said that the price for organic dairy over the last 10 years has been “consistent”, while conventional dairy has had peaks and lows.

She added that fertiliser prices are “only going to go in one direction”, and it may be time to move away.

The Organic Farming Scheme (OFS) is open from today, and will remain open until December 8.

An annual participation payment of €2,000 in the first year of conversion and €1,400/year thereafter, has been introduced to support organic farmers.

Hackett on Forestry

The minister also spoke about the forestry outlook for the remainder of the year.

She said that the government has “turned a corner in terms of forestry”, with no backlogs in appeals or pending licences anymore.

Minister Hackett said that the government is currently working through the 13 recommendations of the ash dieback review.

“It’s been awful for the sector and for the image of forestry, so we absolutely need to come to a solution and I’m hoping very shortly, in the next matter of weeks we will have a solution for those affected owners,” Minister Hackett said.