An independent senator has welcomed the establishment of the new Organic Forum which is due to meet for the first time this week.

The Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM), Senator Pippa Hackett unveiled the new group yesterday.

Chaired by former Bord Bia director Padraig Brennan, who now works as a consultant for Irish food and drinks companies, the forum is tasked with driving growth in the sector.

It includes representatives from the farming and food processing sector; organic certification bodies; and state agencies.

The Organic Forum will meet for the first time tomorrow (Wednesday, April 13) and on at least a quarterly basis after that.

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Independent senator Victor Boyhan stated that Minister Hackett had chosen “a wide and varied skillset of people” to be part of the new group.

Boyhan, who is also a member of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture, said that the “experience and knowledge” of the members is what is needed to advance and grow the sector successfully and commercially across the country.

The government has set a target of 7.5% land coverage for organics in Ireland.

Minister Hackett has proposed a budget of €256 million under the next Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) to deliver on this. This is 500% larger than the budget which is in place for the current organic scheme.

Senator Boyhan said that he was particularly pleased that Sean McGloin from National Organic Training Skillset had been appointed to the new forum.

“Training and advice in organics is critical in terms of advancing and developing sustainable practice in the sector,” he explained.

“For many years, National Organic Training Skillnet (NOTS) has been providing a wide variety of in-depth courses to farmers, growers, processors, food businesses, agricultural professionals, and consultants working throughout the organic, food, and agricultural sectors,” the senator concluded.