A group of dynamic Austrian organic farmers have visited Offaly as well as other parts of Ireland, this week to see some Irish organic farming as well as giving a few inside tips of the trade from an organically forward nation.
The trip was organised by the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA) as they were keen on an exchange of views with a group of Austria’s premier organic farmers.
Over the course of the week, the group of over 40 farmers visited organic and non organic farms in Clare, Galway, Tipperay, Mayo and Kildare as well their time spent in Offaly. They visited the cheese making facilities at the Mossfield organic farm in Birr.
Organic farming is extremely important to the Austrian agriculture sector with over 15% of Austrian land farmed organically. Ireland pales in comparison to this with only 1.5% of our land currently being farmed organically.
There are wider economic benefits to becoming more organic friendly. Austria has the second wealthiest economy in the EU with agriculture playing an enormous part in its success.
Eddie Punch, ICSA General Secretary, said: “Organic farming can play an enormous role in the recovery of the Irish economy as well as having a hugely positive benefit for farming itself. A move towards organic farming in Ireland would be extremely beneficial to production levels in the country.
“There is also a sense amongst Irish consumers that organic food is a safer food as people can generally find out where the food has originated from and that only the very best produce has gone in to making it.
“The ICSA is proud to have invited this prestigious group of farmers to Ireland. We have been keen to learn from them as well giving them an sight into how we currently farm. I think it was an excellent experience and we both learned something from each other. Of course Offaly is an excellent example of some of Ireland’s finest land and some the country’s most forward thinking farmers. Austria and their economy has benefited greatly from their commitment to organic farming and I’m full convinced Ireland can do the same.”