Minister Hackett announces re-opening of Organic Farming Scheme
The Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Senator Pippa Hackett today announced that the Organic Farming Scheme will reopen to new entrants in the first week of March. The re-opening, subject to EU Commission approval, is expected to result in an increase of up to 30% in the number of farmers farming organically in Ireland this year.
Announcing the opening of the Scheme, Minister Hackett said, “I am delighted to be in a position to support the growing number of farmers in Ireland who want to farm organically. Organic farming embraces nature and natural processes to produce organic food, for which there is a growing demand both in Ireland and across Europe. And the reopening of this scheme, with the extra funding and scope for so many more farmers to join, demonstrates my Department’s commitment to helping farmers cater for that demand.”
Referring further to the extra numbers who will be catered for, the Minister added, “We expect 400-500 new farmers to be able to join the scheme. That represents a significant added investment organic farming which we can make because of the additional €4million we secured in this year’s budget. It will also help us meet the targets set out in the Programme for Government to align Ireland’s organic land area with that of the current EU average over the lifetime of this Government.”
The Organic Farming Scheme is an agri-environment measure under the Department's Rural Development Programme. Farmers entering the scheme could qualify for yearly payments of up to €220 per hectare during the conversion period and up to €170 per hectare when they have achieved full organic status. Higher payment rates are available for organic horticulture and tillage farmers.
Encouraging farmers to apply for the scheme, the Minister also said, “I am happy to prioritise those sectors for which most market demand exists, namely the dairy, horticulture and tillage sectors, but I also want to encourage young farmers to convert to organic farming so I will be making provision in the selection process to achieve this. I will also ensure that farmers who were not successful in gaining entry to the previous scheme but who have continued to farm organically, have their commitment acknowledged, through priority access.”
Minister Hackett concluded, “The scheme and funding are closely aligned to the targets in the National Organic Farming Strategy to 2025 and will help us deliver on them. So I very much look forward to announcing the full details when applications open on 1st March. In the meantime would encourage all prospective applicants to take time to consider participation in the scheme and avail of the supports that are available for conversion.”
Note for Editors:
Organic Farming Scheme (OFS):
- The Organic Farming Scheme is one of the most successful schemes under the current Rural Development Programme. The target for the RDP was to attract some 16,000 hectares of new land into production and to support 46,000 hectares of converted land. These targets have been exceeded as there are now approximately 74,000 hectares under organic production.
- Applicants must then declare their organic land in their annual BPS declaration, which will be taken in consideration when determining entry into the Scheme.
- Approvals letters to all successful applicants will likely issue in October, while the initial Organic Farming Scheme payment is expected to issue in November of this year.
- There are currently 1,460 farmers participating in the current OFS.
- Full details on how and where to apply will be available when the scheme is formally launched on 1st March.