Dáil Éireann - Volume 467 - 27 June, 1996
Written Answers. - Organic Farming.
Mr. Callely Mr. Callely
122. Mr. Callely asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry the  progress, if any, made in respect of the development of all aspects of organic farming; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13854/96]
Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry (Mr. Yates) Ivan Yates
Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry (Mr. Yates): My Department has made substantial progress in the development of organic farming.
At producer level through a special supplementary measure to the Rural Environment Protection Scheme (REPS) financial incentives are available to farmers who are engaged in or who convert to organic farming systems. The introduction of this measure has increased the number of farmers opting to farm organically.
In the area of research the provision of grant aid from my Department has allowed for considerable research into organic farming by Teagasc at its organic unit in Jobstown Castle and at its centre in Kildalton. Research has also been carried out at Mountbellew Agriculture College.
My Department has approved three private inspection bodies to carry out inspections and certification work under an EU regulation in relation to the organic production of plants and plant products. These bodies are also operating standards for organic live-stock production.
Under the Operational Programme for Agriculture, Rural Development and Forestry 1994-1999 an allocation of £1 million has been provided for marketing, promotion and distribution projects. A number of applications are being considered for grant aid under this scheme at present. My Department is endeavouring to ensure that grant aid under this scheme will increase the level of interest in organic produce at both producer and consumer level and provide for greater availability of organic produce at retail outlets.
The Deputy will recognise that substantial progress has been made and is being made in the development of this important niche sector.
Dáil Éireann 467 Written Answers. Organic Farming.