Minister Sargent Launches Organic Food Pilot Scheme

Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Trevor Sargent TD with Frances Ryder Marine Institute chef and chefs Louis Smith, Aidan McGrath, Raymond Yip and Michael O'Meara from GMIT. Photograph: Mike Shaughnessy

Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Trevor Sargent TD has launched a new initiative to introduce the promotion of organic food through the public procurement process today (15th September 2009) at the Marine Institute.  This initiative, spear headed by Gillian Westbrook of the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmer’s Association (ICSA) as part of her involvement with the National Organic Steering Committee, will see the introduction of a range of organic products.  

Minister Trevor Sargent TD said “One of the objectives of the National Organic Action Plan is to encourage the development of Public Procurement opportunities for organic products. This scheme is a welcome step towards developing the great potential that Public Procurement offers, particularly to local organic producers who can supply the freshest quality food.”  

Dr. Peter Heffernan, CEO of the Marine Institute congratulated the National Organic Steering Committee on the introduction of the Organic Pilot Scheme initiative and said “The Marine Institute have worked closely with Bord Iascaigh Mhara, the agency responsible for developing and implementing world-class quality assurance schemes, including organic certification of aquaculture products.  The use of these accredited schemes has yielded a price premium for Irish fish farmers and has served to guarantee the reputation of Irish farmed seafood both at home and abroad.   It is therefore a great opportunity to support this initiative which should help to further develop this niche market.”  

Pauline Cox, MD of Management Catering Services – Compass Group Ireland said, “We are delighted to support today’s launch as it is very much in line with our Corporate Responsibility framework.  The Organic Pilot Scheme is an exciting initiative which opens up some great sourcing opportunities for local, healthy sustainable products not just in Galway area but beyond, for our entire business in the country.”  

Gillian Westbrook, ICSA said, “This initiative is good for Irish farmers as it will send out a very positive signal that there are new opportunities for Irish organic produce emerging. A number of ICSA members involved in conventional beef and lamb production are interested in looking at organic conversion options and developing possible markets for their products. Many organic producers are working on a small scale and a sustainable home market is much more achievable for them initially. This will allow them to develop their business before considering export to other markets.”