The Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA) has issued a reminder to farmers currently the Organic Farming Scheme (OFS) to re-apply for the scheme, as their contracts will not automatically roll over into next year.

ICSA Organics chair Fergal Byrne said: “Existing Organic [Farming] Scheme participants will have had their contracts roll over for the last two years but that will not happen again.

“All organics contracts will come to an end on December 31, 2022.

“The closing date for applications is Friday, December 9. This is not just an important date for those applying for the Organic [Farming] Scheme for the first time, it is an important date for those already in the scheme and wishing to continue for the duration of the next CAP [Common Agricultural Policy].

Applications can be submitted through the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine’s agfood portal or with the help of an advisor.

Byrne has encouraged all farmers to consider the option of switching to organics if possible.

“There has been significant investment in the scheme and drystock farmers opting to switch can receive €300/ha for up to 70ha in year one and two of converting,” he explained.

“They will also receive an annual participation payment of €2,000 in the first year and €1,400 per year thereafter. Fully converted farmers are eligible to receive €250/ha as well as the annual participation payment.” 

Organic Farming Scheme

The scheme is part of the Programme for Government commitment to substantially increase land farmed organically in Ireland.

Organic agriculture is a farming system which relies on crop rotations, the recycling of farm-produced organic materials, i.e., crop residues, animal manure, legumes, green manure and off-farm organic wastes, and on a variety of nonchemical methods for the control of pests, diseases and weeds.

Organic farmers will also receive priority access to Agri-Climate Rural Environment Scheme (ACRES).

Earlier this week, Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM), Pippa Hackett confirmed that farmers will be eligible to receive both the agroforestry and organic farming payment on the same area of land.