Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Michael Creed has been called on to explain why so many applications were rejected following the reopening of the Organic Farming Scheme last year by Charlie McConalogue.

Deputy McConalogue, Fianna Fáil’s spokesperson for agriculture, said: “The Minister for Agriculture needs to explain why 75% of applications to the Organic Farming Scheme were rejected.

“The scheme reopened in a 30-day window in 2018 with 255 total applications,” the Donegal TD noted.

It is utterly baffling that 75% of applications would be turned down. Of these numbers 34 have appealed their application decision.

Deputy McConalogue highlighted the importance of the Organic Farming Scheme, with payments made to roughly 1,550 farmer participants.

“It is a vital scheme for those who do produce organic products.”

Continuing, the TD said: “It also seems highly unlikely the money assigned to this scheme under the Rural Development Programme 2014-2020 will be used in full.

Of the €56 million budgeted for the scheme only €26 million has been spent – with just one year left.

“The minister needs to urgently explain the astronomically high rejection rate on applications, how the appeals process is being handled, and detail a timeline for appeals so farmers are given a fair hearing.

“Minister Creed owes answers to the high volume of applicants who have had their application turned down,” deputy McConalogue concluded.