Increasing the number of organic farmers and developing markets for Irish produce will be among the key priorities for the Organic Strategy Forum this year.

The stakeholder group, established in April by Minister of State of the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Senator Pippa Hackett, has today (Tuesday, January 24) presented a progress report on its first year of operation.

There are 24 members of the forum, which is chaired by former Bord Bia director turned consultant, Padraig Brennan.

It comprises representatives from relevant state agencies, farm bodies, organic food processors and organic certification bodies.

Organic farmers

The government has set a target of 7.5% of land being farmed organically in Ireland by 2030 compared to 2% in 2021.

Last autumn, a record-breaking 2,100 farmers applied to join the Organic Farming Scheme (OFS).

The Organic Strategy Forum report said that the increased level of events, engagement and activities for farmers considering conversion last year “will need to be repeated in 2023”.

The forum will also consider the need for more standalone events for existing organic farmers and those in conversion to help them to optimise their production system.

This year, the group is planning to articulate the business case for organics through financial information, market development and increased levels of price reporting.

organic farming

In terms of market development, the forum and Bord Bia are working together to develop promotional messaging for domestic consumers around the benefits of organic produce.

This so-called “value proposition” will be tweaked for export markets to reflect the attributes of most interest to trade buyers.

Bord Bia is to seek EU promotional funding for Irish organics in April for a proposed three-year campaign which would begin in 2024.

During the first half of this year, a tender process will be completed to select a service provider to develop, manage and support a new digital organic hub which will co-ordinate organic supplies and reduce leakage.

In 2023, the forum will also focus on green procurement, education, infrastructure and the capturing of accurate organic production data.


Welcoming the progress report, Minister Pippa Hackett said:

“One of the priorities of the forum was to increase the critical mass of the organic sector and this was reflected in the record number of 2,100 new applications in autumn 2022 to join the Organic Farming Scheme.

“We will drive on with this now and reopen the scheme again before the end of 2023.

“Development of new market opportunities for our increasing organic output is a clear priority for all of us this year.

“This will be a key focus of mine in 2023, including leading a trade mission with Irish companies to the world’s largest organic trade fair, Biofach in Germany, next month”.

Chair of the Organic Strategy Forum, Padraig Brennan, added:

“Given the rapidly evolving marketplace and the ever-increasing focus on the environment, the expertise and experience of forum members will be decisive in maintaining an upward growth in the value of the organic food sector.

“I look forward to working in partnership with the Department and the Forum members to ensure that the growth potential of this increasingly important sector is fully realised.”