The Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Senator Pippa Hackett today announced the reopening of the Organic Farming Scheme for new applications from farmers. The reopening, is expected to result in an increase of up to 30% in the number of farmers farming organically in Ireland this year.
The Scheme will be open to applications from all sectors from today (1st March) and it will remain open until the 30th April 2021. 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 added, “I believe that the significant level of funding provided for this new Scheme will facilitate the entry of 400-500 new farmers into the organic farming system. This should allow scope for plenty of successful applications from all types of enterprises and I would encourage farmers in all sectors to consider applying.”
The Minister continued, “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. In the event of the scheme being oversubscribed, I will be prioritising 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 too. I have also ensured 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.”
Applications for the scheme must be made online through the Department’s online system agfood.ie. The Minister concluded, “The application process itself is quite simple and straightforward. There is a wealth of information and guidance available to farmers through my Deportment, Teagasc and the organic certification bodies. Farmers of course should also speak directly with their own advisor if considering joining the scheme. I would encourage every farmer to inform themselves of the opportunities here and to give it fill consideration.”