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24-12-2010, 12:09   #1
 
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Is organic farming sustainable in Ireland?

One of the great projects of Trevor Sargent when he was Minister for Horticulture was a push on farmers markets and the expansion of Organic Food production in Ireland. But with the current economic downturn and our climate is it really sustainable or a pipe dream?

My opinion is that organic farming has its merits but its too exclusive and limited to sustain the majority of the Irish population. Apart from Dairy and Meat(96% of our organic land is under pastures and meadows) the other organic areas are too limited to have an impact and the Irish climate limits us. Bord Bia have come out with reports like the below in recent years but I would never consider them the most reliable source and they seem to have a fondness of finding results that the Minister at the time wishes to read. So is Irish Organic Farming another policy failure of the Greens?


Bord Bia 2008
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Organic sales increase by 82% - from €57 million to €104 million

45% of Irish grocery shoppers bought organic produce in the last month

According to new research announced today at Bord Bia’s National Organic Food Conference, organic sales in Ireland have increased by 82%, reaching a value of €104 million in the year to July 2008, compared to €57 million in the year to July 2006*The research also revealed 45% of Irish grocery shoppers purchased an organic product in the last month, a significant increase from 20% in 2003.

During his address Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries & Food Trevor Sargent T.D., said “Organic farming has a major role to play in meeting the ever increasing challenges of depleting oil supplies, climate change and the provision of a sustainable supply of food. More farmers producing organic food here in Ireland would mean more jobs at home and less energy used worldwide.The future is bright for organic food and farming in Ireland and I am totally committed to helping the organic sector grow and develop to its full potential.”

Latest Eurostat Figures on Organic Farming in EU & Norway
http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/sta...ing_statistics
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24-12-2010, 13:39   #2
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Originally Posted by Corsendonk View Post
One of the great projects of Trevor Sargent when he was Minister for Horticulture was a push on farmers markets and the expansion of Organic Food production in Ireland. But with the current economic downturn and our climate is it really sustainable or a pipe dream?

My opinion is that organic farming has its merits but its too exclusive and limited to sustain the majority of the Irish population. Apart from Dairy and Meat(96% of our organic land is under pastures and meadows) the other organic areas are too limited to have an impact and the Irish climate limits us. Bord Bia have come out with reports like the below in recent years but I would never consider them the most reliable source and they seem to have a fondness of finding results that the Minister at the time wishes to read. So is Irish Organic Farming another policy failure of the Greens?


Bord Bia 2008



Latest Eurostat Figures on Organic Farming in EU & Norway
http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/sta...ing_statistics
Do the stats at the link you provide contradict the Bord Bia figures? Have you some analysis to hand that someone has done on the viability of organic farming, or is this just your personal impression of the industry?
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24-12-2010, 14:49   #3
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Originally Posted by Corsendonk View Post
One of the great projects of Trevor Sargent when he was Minister for Horticulture was a push on farmers markets and the expansion of Organic Food production in Ireland. But with the current economic downturn and our climate is it really sustainable or a pipe dream?

My opinion is that organic farming has its merits but its too exclusive and limited to sustain the majority of the Irish population. Apart from Dairy and Meat(96% of our organic land is under pastures and meadows) the other organic areas are too limited to have an impact and the Irish climate limits us. Bord Bia have come out with reports like the below in recent years but I would never consider them the most reliable source and they seem to have a fondness of finding results that the Minister at the time wishes to read. So is Irish Organic Farming another policy failure of the Greens?


Bord Bia 2008



Latest Eurostat Figures on Organic Farming in EU & Norway
http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/sta...ing_statistics
I've seen farmers markets all over the place. It's all foreign cheese, olives, and I'd be surprised if 10% of the goods sold there have anything to do with Irish Farmers. Might you be confusing Country Markets with Farmers Markets?

If you are trying to revert to a situation where the Irish Population is fed by Irish farmers, and we are reduced to eating only produce grown in Ireland, I'm afraid that battle was lost years ago, thankfully. Irish Farmers export much more foodstuffs than we import, and it would be a terrible step ro return to an isolationist society where we were not able to import oranges from lemons, olive oil, macadamia nuts and a whole host of wonderful foods which make all our lives more interesting and worthwhile.

I wonder how much support Trevor Sargeant and his fellow greens have for their exciting and innovative plans for us all? I'm sure we'll see the full extent of support in the country after the upcoming elections.
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24-12-2010, 15:54   #4
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I'd personally love to see more organic community supported agriculture in this country, especially in the east. On a local level it works very well for everyone involved.

For anyone unfamiliar with the model, you pay a farm a set sum of money at the start of the year, and each week during harvest season you pick up or get delivered your share of that week's produce. It gives some peace of mind and security to the farm while fostering a good sense of community and friendship. It also cuts out the worst stage of production, the reseller.

But on a national level? Is organic farming sustainable in Ireland? Well you'd need a LOT of land, capital and labor to make it work. I'm not sure we meet any of those three requirements right now.
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24-12-2010, 17:04   #5
 
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Originally Posted by Gael View Post
Do the stats at the link you provide contradict the Bord Bia figures? Have you some analysis to hand that someone has done on the viability of organic farming, or is this just your personal impression of the industry?
Nope because the Bord Bia stats are retail/consumer stats and the Euro stats are agricultural/production stats if you read them. It was just to provide further information for people with a poor undestanding of the organic food sector in Ireland. Why would I use totally different subject stats to contradict one another?

Its my opinion thats why I started the paragraph "In my opinion". Sorry if it wasn't more obvious for you. Basically the greens had a vision to increase organic production in Ireland with farmers markets selling local produced organic products but the industry is heavily skewed towards animals and their by products. Their are one or two large organic growers of produce, small local suppliers but as one poster here points out alot of the products sold at these venues is either/and
  • isn't Irish
  • isn't organic
  • isn't local

Farners Markets don't seem to be regulated in the way supermarkets are inspected by the Dept of Agriculture to ensure they correctly display country of origins. People sometimes assume that when carrots have soil on them and tops they must be organic or local.

Secondly the vast majority of us still buy are groceries in the major multiples and even when times were good have you ever seen anyone with a full basket of organic products at the checkout? Typically organic food costs 10%-40% more than the conventional line. Google it and you will get any number of cost models that organic farming is more expensive mainly due to the extra labour costs and poorer yields.

The majority of shoppers that can afford organic like to buy one or two lines to feel that we are doing are bit or the store ran out of conventional product and we ended up buying the organic ones or that we actually like the organic product above its conventional competitor lines. Thats why I would take the Bord Bia data with a pinch of salt.

The consumer can also be vague on what they see as organic, A well know NI potato supplier sells a Fertilser Free Brand of potatoes in shops and supermarkets throughout Ireland, Several people I have questioned that bought this line assume its organic.
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24-12-2010, 17:05   #6
 
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Originally Posted by OctavarIan View Post
I'd personally love to see more organic community supported agriculture in this country, especially in the east. On a local level it works very well for everyone involved.

For anyone unfamiliar with the model, you pay a farm a set sum of money at the start of the year, and each week during harvest season you pick up or get delivered your share of that week's produce. It gives some peace of mind and security to the farm while fostering a good sense of community and friendship. It also cuts out the worst stage of production, the reseller.

But on a national level? Is organic farming sustainable in Ireland? Well you'd need a LOT of land, capital and labor to make it work. I'm not sure we meet any of those three requirements right now.
Climate is essential too.
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25-12-2010, 07:54   #7
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Originally Posted by Corsendonk View Post
... provide further information for people with a poor undestanding of the organic food sector in Ireland. Why would I use totally different subject stats to contradict one another?

Its my opinion thats why I started the paragraph "In my opinion". Sorry if it wasn't more obvious for you. Basically the greens had a vision to increase organic production in Ireland with farmers markets selling local produced organic products but the industry is heavily skewed towards animals and their by products. Their are one or two large organic growers of produce, small local suppliers but as one poster here points out alot of the products sold at these venues is either/and
  • isn't Irish
  • isn't organic
  • isn't local

Farners Markets don't seem to be regulated in the way supermarkets are inspected by the Dept of Agriculture to ensure they correctly display country of origins. People sometimes assume that when carrots have soil on them and tops they must be organic or local...
It seems you are still confused about the diference between "Farmers Markets" and "Country Markets", so perhaps your claim that "people" have a poor understanding is more widespread that even you realise!

Farmers markets in ireland clain to have;
  • Organic Fruit & Vegetables (Largest selection on display anywhere in Ireland - over 200 varieties)
  • Organic & Free Range Meats
  • Organic Eggs
  • Organic Bread & Speciality Cakes
  • Organic & Farmhouse Cheeses
  • Organic Herbs, whole food, Craft Bakeries
  • Islamic Food & Gourmet Pies
  • Chatuturie & French Paterise
  • Fresh Fish & Shellfish
  • Free Trade Coffee beans and teas, Juice Bar
  • Artisan foods including oils, olives, salads, chutneys, pasta, nuts, jams, chocolates, home made fudge, wine.
  • Mexican, Japanese, Italian, French, German, Lebanese, Indian and Malaysian Foods Stalls
  • Craft Stalls: Toys, Linen, Jewellery, clothes & Jewellery
  • Massage, bottled waters, Plants & Fresh Flowers
As you can see, over 200 types of fruit and vegatables, coffee, tea, Olives, oils, Mexican, Japanese, Italian, French, German, Lebanese, Indian and Malaysian Foods Stalls and so have no connection whatever to Irish farmers, nor any connection to being organic or not.

Just because it's called "Farmers markets" might conjure up an image of Irish farmers toiling the soil, but don't be deceived by the name. The people involved in the "Farmers Markets" are generally traders who, for example, buy fruit and vegatables in the dublin markets and, just like any other retailer in ireland, sell them to consumers. Just because they do it outside in supermarket car parks, or wherever else, does not mean they have any connection to "farmers" and the name is just a clever piece of marketing.

The Country Markets Ltd was established in 1946 by the Irish Homespun Society and the Irish Countrywomen’s Association. Country Markets Limited was established as a totally independent registered co-operative Society and was affiliated to I.C.O.S. (Irish Co-operative Organisation Society) in early 1947.
The aim of Country Markets Limited is to market, by co-operative means, producer members’ good fresh quality farm, garden and home produce and traditional crafts using our natural resources. Marketing co-operatively in this way it is hoped to enhance, in a small way the family income.



Generally speaking, the members of the Country Markets, themselves, grow the produce they bring to the markets for sale. It's important to understand the difference. If you are in any doubt, go to a "Farmers market" and then go to a "Country Market" (http://www.countrymarkets.ie/our-markets).


The Greens are no doubt well intentioned, but the Country Markets have been going for decades before the Green Party was even a twinkle in the eye of Christopher Fettes.
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27-12-2010, 14:29   #8
 
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Originally Posted by Oscardela View Post
It seems you are still confused about the diference between "Farmers Markets" and "Country Markets", so perhaps your claim that "people" have a poor understanding is more widespread that even you realise!

Farmers markets in ireland clain to have;
  • Organic Fruit & Vegetables (Largest selection on display anywhere in Ireland - over 200 varieties)
  • Organic & Free Range Meats
  • Organic Eggs
  • Organic Bread & Speciality Cakes
  • Organic & Farmhouse Cheeses
  • Organic Herbs, whole food, Craft Bakeries
  • Islamic Food & Gourmet Pies
  • Chatuturie & French Paterise
  • Fresh Fish & Shellfish
  • Free Trade Coffee beans and teas, Juice Bar
  • Artisan foods including oils, olives, salads, chutneys, pasta, nuts, jams, chocolates, home made fudge, wine.
  • Mexican, Japanese, Italian, French, German, Lebanese, Indian and Malaysian Foods Stalls
  • Craft Stalls: Toys, Linen, Jewellery, clothes & Jewellery
  • Massage, bottled waters, Plants & Fresh Flowers
As you can see, over 200 types of fruit and vegatables, coffee, tea, Olives, oils, Mexican, Japanese, Italian, French, German, Lebanese, Indian and Malaysian Foods Stalls and so have no connection whatever to Irish farmers, nor any connection to being organic or not.

Just because it's called "Farmers markets" might conjure up an image of Irish farmers toiling the soil, but don't be deceived by the name. The people involved in the "Farmers Markets" are generally traders who, for example, buy fruit and vegatables in the dublin markets and, just like any other retailer in ireland, sell them to consumers. Just because they do it outside in supermarket car parks, or wherever else, does not mean they have any connection to "farmers" and the name is just a clever piece of marketing.

The Country Markets Ltd was established in 1946 by the Irish Homespun Society and the Irish Countrywomen’s Association. Country Markets Limited was established as a totally independent registered co-operative Society and was affiliated to I.C.O.S. (Irish Co-operative Organisation Society) in early 1947.
The aim of Country Markets Limited is to market, by co-operative means, producer members’ good fresh quality farm, garden and home produce and traditional crafts using our natural resources. Marketing co-operatively in this way it is hoped to enhance, in a small way the family income.



Generally speaking, the members of the Country Markets, themselves, grow the produce they bring to the markets for sale. It's important to understand the difference. If you are in any doubt, go to a "Farmers market" and then go to a "Country Market" (http://www.countrymarkets.ie/our-markets).


The Greens are no doubt well intentioned, but the Country Markets have been going for decades before the Green Party was even a twinkle in the eye of Christopher Fettes.
Did I ever mention country markets? While you have twice, are you connected to them?

I am more specifically talking about the organic sector and the green policy that farmers markets would supply the irish consumer directly with organic produce. Is it sustainable?
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05-01-2011, 12:22   #9
 
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If Trevor Sargent, the failed minister for carrotts, had his way the whole world would change to organic food production.
There would mass starvation and famines within a few years. Only the rich would be able to purchase food!
Of course the consequent collapse of the worlds population, would lead to less fossile fuel consumption, less pollution, less plastic bags, less of all the stuff the greens don't like.
Hey presto ............. one of the great desires of the greens would have been achieved. A greener, cleaner, world.
This organic food thing is a sinister plot coming form the bicycle clip brigade
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05-01-2011, 12:59   #10
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Less of the conspiracy theories and pejorative language please.
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20-01-2011, 14:22   #11
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The real question would be is inorganic farming sustainable?

How much more fertiliser, pesticides and antibiotics can we throw at the environment before we run into serious problems?
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21-01-2011, 12:09   #12
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I think we need to have a look at the work of Joe Salatin. His farm called Polyface Farm is beyond organic, it's efficient and profitable too. It mimics nature in every way possible. It's local, he only sell to those within a two hour drive. This is what we should really be promoting.
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21-01-2011, 12:51   #13
 
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The real question would be is inorganic farming sustainable?

How much more fertiliser, pesticides and antibiotics can we throw at the environment before we run into serious problems?
Should have thought we had long past that point.
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21-01-2011, 13:05   #14
 
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I think we need to have a look at the work of Joe Salatin. His farm called Polyface Farm is beyond organic, it's efficient and profitable too. It mimics nature in every way possible. It's local, he only sell to those within a two hour drive. This is what we should really be promoting.
There is always space for one or two model farms like the Salatin model but your not exactly going to feed Ireland or have a sustainable organic industry. To have a successful organic farm you need one a lot of land for rotation purposes and a good mix of livestock and horticulture production. Climate as we have said before is a major restriction in Ireland so if you wish to over come that you need a cheap and sustainable energy source to provide heating otherwise the range of fruits and vegetables avaliable to the consumer throughout the year ebbs and flows or can not be grown in Ireland. Are Irish consumers prepared to live with seasonality?

Would the carbon footprint of growing organic food abroad in a thirdworld/ or warmer climate country and shipping to Ireland be less than trying to grow in Ireland? Some experts think so.
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21-01-2011, 13:29   #15
 
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The real question would be is inorganic farming sustainable?

How much more fertiliser, pesticides and antibiotics can we throw at the environment before we run into serious problems?
At the end of the day farms are a business so if the farmer can limit the inputs of pesticides, fertiliser and antibiotics they save themselves money. Fertiliser prices have shot through the roof in the last few years and supermarkets now are paying less than they did 5 years ago.

Biological controls have been used in the last 15 years to reduce pesticide usage and the Irish farmer has less pesticides at his disposal because he can only use whats licensed on the Irish market and chemical companies are unwilling to pay for the license for such a small customer base.
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