News from www.planorganic.com the new Ireland-based, guide, information, debate and comment site on all matters organic. Updated 22nd May.
In the UK GM crop trials threaten the UK's organic growers; Blair refuses to talk about the farming crisis and a sustainable future; and his Labour spin machine accuses an organic farmer of colluding with the BBC to bring down the government because they wanted to ask a question about the money wasted on GM crops. Meanwhile...
UK. From being the third largest, the UK's organic market is predicted to be the biggest in Europe within five years. By 2005 the organic market will be worth almost £3 billion. This is the conclusion of a new report, Next Generation Organics, by professional food industry analysts, Data Monitor. www.datamonitor.com This is specialised info., only for those with deep pockets, such as the food giants, or govt. depts., as the cost is over £3,000.00 per copy! By surfing our site and a few others you could have the same, if not better information, for next-to-nothing! We have a feeling too that the report fails to take into account Germany, and the urgency (like putting in a Green, Ag.Min) and the organisation (we saw it at close range, doing our own organic research last Nov.) it is applying to organic development. Even this last week, there is another example of Germany's radicalism toward changing food policies; the largest federal consumer group, BVZV, have launched a "quality offensive" for better food and are taking action against illegal, "organic" labelling. We are prepared to bet, Euros 100.00, that Germany will remain the largest organic market in Europe by 2005. Any takers at Data Monitor? Please - we need the money.
Ireland. The West's Awake! and leading the field again, it would seem! Another Action Plan (the current buzzwords - that's the fifth we know of in Europe and there will be more - we're not complaining however) for organic production was launched in Ireland yesterday - 21st May - by the Western Development Commission. The WDC are responsible for the western, Connaught province. Their plan was proclaimed by one of our three Ag.Mins, Eamon O Cuiv, at Mounbellew, Co. Galway, and is based on a study," Blueprint for Organic Agri-Food Production in the West" a comprehensive - and expensive! - report. The document basically tells Irish farmers to get the finger out and produce the organic goods or the increasing demand (25%++) will be met by more imports. At present, over 75% of organic food is imported and most of what we do produce is meat. So, we are probably importing over 95% of our organic fruit and vegetables and dried and processed goods. How's that for a major food exporting nation! The WDC plan aims "to capture the maximum share of the market " which means that whilst the rest of the country pursues conventional farming policies, western farmers are going to be especially helped to capitalise on the "premium" organic market. It is going to be interesting when the Rest realise we now have a two-tier agricultural policy - a progressive one for the minority West, with the prospect of higher farm incomes and all the other plusses an organic region will entail - and another, suffer-in-silence-as-you-were policy for the majority Rest. Mr Liam Scallon, of the WDC, also tells us ( RTE Radio 1, 5-7 Live, 21st May) that all the farmers in the West are almost organic anyway - due to their claimed "less intensive practices", and the whole region is to be encouraged to "fast-track" into organic production (we're trying hard to be positive but we're getting a bad feeling about some of this!).
Ireland. New Grant Aid Scheme for the Development of the Organic Sector, just announced - IP£ 1.2 million per year, for five years. At the official launch, in exclusive Buswells Hotel, last Tues, Ag.Min. Noel Davern, confirmed his commitment to the organic sector which he assures us is about to take "its rightful place as part of mainstream Irish agriculture". Another statement of his puzzles us too; "...in some ways we are ahead of the game in Ireland". We cannot see any way that Ireland is ahead in organic farming development. On the contrary Ireland is completely, and shamefully, down the field, in comparison with her EU neighbours, and without a massive national initiative and serious allocation of resources she will stay there! www.irlgov.ie/daff.