‘Most have had their applications turned down’ for Organic Farming Scheme

Independent TD Michael Collins has said that from speaking to farmers, “most of them have had their applications turned down” for the Organic Farming Scheme.

Under the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, the Organic Farming Scheme provides financial support to farmers to encourage production of organic foods.

Speaking at the first public meeting of the Committee on Agriculture and the Marine this term, which took place this week, the Cork South-West TD said the organic sector “is, in effect, closed to small farmers”.

“We have a new government which, we are told, is a green government,” the deputy said.

“The scheme has been open for the past two years but from speaking to farmers, most of them have had their applications turned down.

At a time when farmers are finding it difficult to survive, schemes like this offer a lifeline.

“Farmers are advised to apply for such schemes but, in this case, the door has been bolted tight. With the Green Party in government, I expect there will be a strong focus on this issue in the time ahead.”

In response, Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue said that “increasing our organic footprint and the number of farmers involved in organic schemes is a key commitment in the Programme for Government and we will be keeping a keen eye on this as we develop our policies and the various budgets”.

Climate bill announced

Meanwhile, in other environmental news, the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development (Amendment) Bill 2020 was published yesterday (Wednesday, October 7) and the government has said legally-binding targets for emissions from agriculture will “probably come later”.

Minister for Climate Action, Communication Networks and Transport Eamon Ryan said that the bill will be enacted by mid-December.

The minister said “it will not be an easy process” to carbon-neutrality and that it requires a lot of sectors “to change their ways”.

Each sector will be assigned sectoral targets, including agriculture, and it has been recognised by the government that it is not possible to have a target of net-zero emissions in the agriculture sector.