Responding to research finding that organic foods often contain high levels of beneficial compounds, Food and Horticulture Minister Trevor Sargent said: “Ireland’s production must keep up with growing consumer demand if Irish farmers are to reap the benefits of organic conversion and if Irish consumers are to have access to affordable organic foods.

“Therefore, I am urging Irish farmers to examine the commercial opportunities that exist with organic conversion.”

Mr Sargent said that the new Organic Farming Scheme would increase payment rates for producers of such food, and that other grants were available.

He also spoke of the organic farming business in Austria, saying it was a good example of what could be achieved.

“Recently, I visited Austria, which has demonstrated that affordable, high quality, locally-grown organic food is an attainable goal, even in competitive markets,” he said.

Recent research from scientists at the EU Quality Low Input Food project in Newcastle found that organic produce is generally better for you than ordinary food.

Ben Meggeson

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