Over 50,000 tonnes of organic feed needed in Ireland

26-02 | |
Over 50,000 tonnes of organic feed needed in Ireland Photo: Canva
Photo: Canva

The organic sector in Ireland needs over 50,000 tonnes of organic feed next winter, a survey of the organic feed shows.

The figures were announced by the minister of state at the department of agriculture, food and the marine Pippa Hackett, herself an organic livestock farmer.

This survey shows growing demand for organic feed of all types to meet requirements for the winter 2024/25. Results show consistent growth following the organic feed survey carried out last year as regards demand for concentrated feed, straights and forage. It will help inform planting decisions this Spring.

Increase in organic farmer numbers

The survey took place against the background of a significant increase in organic farmer numbers and area over the past couple of years in Ireland. Farmer numbers doubled to 4,000 in 2023, with another 1,000 farmers joining the Organic Farming Scheme in 2024. Organic land will reach 5% of overall agricultural area in 2024, and is well on target to achieve 10% by 2030.

Based on the replies to the survey, it is estimated that overall demand for concentrates will be in the region of 33,000 tonnes. Similarly, demand could be in the region of 20,000 tonnes for straights, 6,000 tonnes for protein crops (such as a pea/barley mix), and for 50,000 bales of fodder.

Opportunity for an organic Irish mill

Minister Hackett concluded by saying: “Organics and tillage have been highlighted in FoodVision as an opportunity for farmers. These results show the growing demand for organic feed and the opportunity to increase the area of organic tillage in Ireland. There is an opportunity for an organic Irish mill as the sector continues to grow.”

Survey respondents

912 organic farmers participated in the survey which is approximately 25% participation rate among the cohort of farmers in organics before the 2024 intake. 40% of the survey participants have obtained full organic status, 60% are in-conversion. The majority of those who responded have beef (76%) and/or sheep (43%) enterprises. Some 12% have a tillage enterprise, 4% have poultry and 3% have dairy.

Ruud Peijs International Journalist