Bad weather sees organic farmers having difficulties sourcing feed

Thu, Oct 11, 2012, 01:00

Organic farmers are facing increasing difficulties in sourcing organic feed for their animals because of the bad summer weather, the Irish Organic Farmers and Growers Association has warned.

To retain their licence, these farmers must feed 95 per cent organic feed to animals. This means they rely heavily on hay and silage, but these feedstuffs are in short supply because of the poor summer weather.

The association’s general manager, Gillian Westbrook, said farmers were growing increasingly concerned at the shortage of organic feed.

“With many organic farmers, particularly in the western seaboard, reporting reduced harvests in hay and silage there will be a severe shortage of grass-based animal feeds this year,” she said.

If farmers cannot source organic feed they must seek a derogation from the Department of Agriculture, which would grant permission to buy non-organic feed. But permission is rarely given because of the need to uphold the integrity of organic certification.

Ms Westbrook urged farmers to make a strong case about their fodder shortages and be specific about their requirements.

Some 1,692 farmers are engaged in organic production in this State, accounting for about 1 per cent of land use. The Government is trying to increase this to 5 per cent before 2020.