Today, I announced the establishment of a new Organic Forum to further develop the organic sector in Ireland. The Forum, which will have it its first meeting this Wednesday 13th April, comprises a range of stakeholders including from the farming and food processing sectors, organic certification bodies and relevant State Agencies. Forum members have been selected to include a broad range of expertise across all organic farming sectors, and this group will be the forum for discussion on all relevant issues to help the development of the Irish organic sector.
The immediate focus of the Organic Forum will be on the continued implementation of the National Organic Strategy 2025 and any related actions and supports necessary to remove the barriers to the growth of the sector.
The formation of this high-level group is to build upon the excellent work in the National Organic Strategy 2019 to 2025 and to continue to advance further some of the main actions which are regarded as priorities for development of the sector. I am hugely ambitious for the growth of the organic sector and I intend that this Organic Forum will identify and discuss the current challenges in the sector and devise specific targeted actions to bring a fresh impetus.
This is a sector which has a central role to play in increasing future well-being and reducing the harmful effects of the climate and biodiversity crises. The reason each individual member of the Forum has been invited to take part is because I believe their experience and expertise can contribute to the solutions we need to drive the growth of the organic sector.
The organic sector is an increasingly important component of the Irish agri-food sector. Its development is important in terms of responding to the marketplace and meeting increasing broader health and ethical consumer choices.
The Government has set a target of 7.5% land coverage for Organics in Ireland and the Minister is proposing a budget of €256m under the next CAP to deliver this. This is 500% larger than the budget for the current scheme.
I have appointed Mr. Padraig Brennan to chair the Forum. Padraig is a former Director in Bord Bia with a wide range of experience in the farming, food and retail sectors. I am delighted to have secured Padraig Brennan to chair this forum given his vast experience at a very senior level in the Irish food sector. I intend that the Forum will meet at least quarterly and I look forward to hearing directly from the Forum on the relevant issues and necessary actions to drive this exciting and innovative sector forward.