Written Answers. - Organic Farming.

Eamon Ryan

Ceist:

12 Mr. Eamon Ryan asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food if he will follow Germany's example by setting a target of 20% of agricultural land to be under organic production by 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19158/03]

The Organic Development Committee in its report which was presented last year estimated that a target of 3% of land area in organic farming by 2006 was feasible. The committee also recommended that a census of organic farming should be taken at intervals and that when the first census was concluded, the results should be analysed to explore whether targets can be set for the development of individual areas within the sector. My Department is currently engaged in conducting the first census of organic farming and the results will be published in the coming months. Following detailed analysis of these results, it will be possible to review the Organic Development Committee's preliminary target of 3% of land area under organic production by 2006.

The land area under organic farming in Ireland is currently less than 1%. Although the Organic Development Committee's projection of 3% by 2006 is ambitious, it is achievable. While organic farming offers real opportunities to a proportion of Irish farmers, particularly in the aftermath of the mid-term review of the CAP, I do not see any point in setting targets that do not reflect market realities and I do not believe that the German target is a useful model for the Irish sector.