Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM), Pippa Hackett, will lead a trade mission to Germany in the coming weeks.

The mission will coincide with Biofach, the largest organic trade fair in Europe.

Speaking in the Dáil recently, in response to a number of parliamentary questions on the theme of organic farming, Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue, said that the trade mission would take place in July, and be led by his colleague, Minister Hackett.

“Routes to market for organic produce are key considerations for farmers that are contemplating converting to organic farming,” he said.

“This trade mission is well resourced to ensure all market opportunities are maximised and visible to potential scheme participants,” he said.

He added that the DAFM is pursuing a “wide suite of actions and has deployed significant targeted resources” to maximise participation in the Organic Farming Scheme (OFS).

“Our commitment to achieve the 7.5% target [of land under organiscs] is gaining in momentum and is evidenced by the most recent figures which yielded a 20% increase in applicants compared to 2021.”

The OFS opened for new applications on February 9, and closed on April 22, with a total of 380 applicants.

A breakdown of the applicants reveal that 40% were from the cattle-farming sector; sheep farming was next with 32%; mixed livestock comprised 7.5% of applications; 6% came from horticulture; and 8% were from ‘other’ sectors with goats and horses on the holdings.

Uptake of the OFS in 2022 was the lowest among the dairy-farming sector.

Under the next Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), for the period 2023-2027, Minister McConalogue has proposed an allocation of €256 million to continue the development and growth of the organic sector.

This is a five-fold increase in funding for the sector compared to the previous CAP period.