Organic Farming Scheme to re-open with immediate effect

The Organic Farming Scheme (OFS) will re-open with immediate effect, it was announced today (Monday, November 19).

The announcement was made today by the Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Andrew Doyle.

The OFS is a scheme under Ireland’s Rural Development Programme 2014-2020 to support organic production on Irish farms.

On announcing the re-opening of the scheme, Minister Doyle stated: “I established a strategy group earlier this year tasked with developing a plan for the development of the organic sector for the period up to 2025.

The group have now recommended the re-opening of the OFS on a targeted basis. This is based on market demand and supply deficits in organic horticulture, cereals and dairy.

“Following receipt of this assessment, I have now decided to re-open the Organic Farming Scheme with immediate effect.

“This will be funded through savings identified in the current OFS budget to facilitate new entrants.

“Mindful of the group’s recommendation, a ranking and selection process will be put in place that will give priority to the areas that are deemed to be in deficit i.e. horticulture cereals and dairy.

The Organic Farming Scheme is a key support measure that will assist farmers in their conversion to organic farming and will allow them to avail of the growing market opportunities that clearly exist for organic food.

Doyle concluded: “The Irish organic sector is one which continues to go from strength to strength. I expect to be receiving the Organic Strategy Report by the end of the year which will set out the development of the Strategy to 2025.”

Details of the scheme

The Organic Farming Scheme is an agri-environmental measure under the Department’s Rural Development Programme. The Scheme is co-funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD).

Farmers enter into a contract for a minimum of five years, with standard rate payments of up to €220/ha/year during the conversion period and up to €170/ha/year when full organic status is achieved.

Higher payment rates are available for organic horticultural and tillage farmers

Latest figures indicate that there are now some 72,000ha under organic production, an increase of nearly 50% on the position at the start of the programme in 2014.

The closing date for applications will be 19 December, 2018.

Applications for the scheme must be made online, and there is no requirement to use an agricultural advisor to make the application.

Copies of the Organic Farming Scheme terms and conditions are available on the department’s organics page.