The Minister for Land Use and Biodiversity, Senator Pippa Hackett, was in Portlaoise today to announce an investment of €150,000 by her Department in continuing to upskill Agricultural Consultants Association (ACA) advisors in organic farming. This programme builds on funding provided in 2022 which enabled over 100 ACA advisors to attend training, receive the support of an organic specialist, and host successful farm walks; and ultimately proved to be very effective in assisting record numbers of farmers making the switch to organic farming. The increased level of support provided in 2023 will ensure a second specialist advisor is appointed by the ACA, as well as ensuring nationwide advisory support is in place for those farmers who are interested in joining the organic farming scheme. This builds on the funding provided last year.
Speaking ahead of the ACA AGM in Portlaoise, Minister Hackett said:
“Farmers can see for themselves the opportunities that are there for them in organic farming. The organic strategy forum and all stakeholders recognise that advisory support is key to ensuring farmers have the confidence to make the switch and become organic farmers. Research has shown that farmers trust agricultural advisors, and this training will ensure farmers now have access to organic farming support. Already, 2023 has been a pivotal one for organic farming as we have accepted record numbers of farmers into the organic farming scheme, and the ACA have been instrumental in bringing organic farming to the forefront as a real opportunity for Irish farmers”.
The Minister added:
“The National Organic Strategy sets out the need to upskill our advisors in organic farming. This training will help us to meet our ambitious Programme for Government and Climate Action Plan targets of substantially increasing the area of land farmed organically in Ireland to 10% by 2030. The €256m budget which I secured for the organic farming scheme was a five-fold increase on the previous scheme and is resulting in hugely increased levels of interest from farmers. With this level of funding available I would encourage all farmers to think carefully about the resilience of their farming system and consider becoming an organic farmer”.
The investment will provide for two specialist organic advisers within the ACA, on-farm and classroom training for advisors, and organic farm walks with an unprecedented level of expertise and advice available at local level for interested farmers.