Over 800 farmers turn to organic farming, with €300/ha grants on offer
Over 800 applications to the Organic Farming Scheme have been received by the Department of Agriculture, which, it says, is a record number applying to the scheme.
The Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture Tom Hayes welcomed the “unprecedented number” of applications to join the new Organic Farming Scheme.
“By the closing date of Friday, May 29, 870 Organic Farming Scheme applications were received by my Department,” he said.
“To put this in context, since the introduction of the Organic Farming Scheme in 2007, the maximum number of applications received in any year was 380, in 2010.”
He said the fact that 504 of these applicants are converting to organics for the first time highlights increased recognition of the potential opportunities that exist for organic producers, both at home and abroad.
The 870 applications received account for over 46,000 hectares of land, and over 58% of this area is being brought into organic production for the first time.
“This is a landmark day for the organic farming sector,” Minister Hayes said, commenting that the significant increase in area brought under organic production for the first time augurs well for the future of organic production in Ireland.
The Organic Farming Scheme is an agri-environment measure under the Department’s Rural Development Programme 2014-2020. The Scheme is co-funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD).
Farmers enter into a contract for a minimum of five years, with standard rate payments of up to €220 per hectare a year during the conversion period and up to €170 per hectare when they have achieved full organic status.
Higher payment rates are available for horticultural and tillage farmers.