Farmers who are considering going organic have just one more week to apply for the Organic Farming Scheme, with the closing date of 11:59pm on Friday, April 30, looming.

The Organic Farming Scheme reopened for new applications from farmers at the beginning of March and closes next Friday.

Additional funding has been allocated to allow the scheme to increase the number of farmers farming organically in Ireland this year by 30%.

Farmers entering the Organic Farming Scheme could qualify for yearly payments of up to €220/ha during the conversion period and up to €170/ha when they have achieved full organic status.

Higher payment rates are available for organic horticulture and tillage farmers.

The scheme is an agri-environment measure under the department’s Rural Development Programme.

Urging all farmers to consider taking the step, Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine Pippa Hackett said: “I believe the future is bright for organic farmers.

Demand is strong for all types of organic produce, prices are often higher, and crucially, it’s also a less intensive way of farming which comes with lower input costs and which embraces nature and natural processes to produce food.

If the scheme is over-subscribed, successful applications will be determined by a ranking and selection process.

Marks will be awarded for each sector with the aim of increasing the area under organic production, while prioritising areas deemed to be in deficit.

The areas deemed to be in deficit by the Organic Strategy Group are dairy, tillage and horticulture.

However, the minister encouraged all farmers to apply for the scheme, adding:

“I want to reassure farmers who are considering taking this step that there is room for everyone – beef and sheep farmers as well as tillage dairy and horticulture enterprises.

“I also want them to know that the EU is totally committed to supporting this way of farming, and organic farms will be fully integrated into the new CAP scheme when it eventually rolls out in 2023.”

In conclusion, she also said, “Applications can be made through my department’s online system and the application process itself is quite simple and straightforward. Those interested can avail of a wealth of information and guidance from my department, Teagasc or their own farm advisor and the organic certification bodies.

“So I would really appeal to those interested in applying to do so, while there is still time.”