• Pippa Hackett

Minister Hackett announces 2022 re-opening of Organic Farming Scheme


Minister Hackett on her own organic farm in County Offaly

PRESS RELEASE

Press and Information Office

An Roinn Talmhaíochta, Bia agus Mara

Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine

  • Says extra funding to enable substantially more land to be farmed organically

  • Expects changes to scheme to facilitate many new entrants

The Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Senator Pippa Hackett has announced that the Organic Farming Scheme is now open for new applicants. The reopened scheme, which is part of the Programme for Government commitment to substantially increase land farmed organically in Ireland, comes with a an additional €5m in budget to take in new entrants.


Announcing the reopening of the Scheme, Minister Hackett said,

“I have made some changes to the scheme this year, both lowering the required stocking rate and also expanding the area paid at the higher rate. I hope the changes will attract many more farmers to consider farming in a way which can lead both to higher prices and a more sustainable way of farming. In a time of high input costs for farmers this is an opportunity to diversify and I would really encourage farmers to consider this approach to farming.”

Making the point that the organic farming scheme will contribute to her commitment to greatly expand organic farming in Ireland, the Minister continued:


“I believe that the significant level of funding provided for this new Scheme will facilitate the entry of many new farmers into the organic farming system. This will allow for plenty of successful applications from all types of enterprises and I would encourage farmers in all sectors to consider applying.”
She said: “The scheme and funding are closely aligned to the targets in the National Organic Farming Strategy 2025 and will help us deliver on them. In the event of the scheme being oversubscribed, I will be prioritising those sectors for which most market demand exists, but I also want to encourage young farmers to convert to organic farming so there is provision in the selection process to achieve this too.”

Mentioning that applications for the scheme must be made online through the Department’s online system agfood.ie, the Minister concluded,

“The application process itself is quite simple and straightforward. There is a wealth of information and guidance available to farmers through my Department, Teagasc and the organic certification bodies. Farmers, of course, should also speak directly with their own advisor if considering joining the scheme. I would encourage every farmer to inform themselves of the opportunities here and to give it full consideration.”

Notes to Editors:

· The Organic Farming Scheme is an agri-environment measure under the Department's Rural Development Programme. Farmers entering the scheme could qualify for yearly payments of up to €220 per hectare during the conversion period and up to €170 per hectare when they have achieved full organic status. Higher payment rates are available for organic horticulture and tillage farmers. Farmers who apply this year can also avail of any new rates introduced next year under the new CAP.

· The Scheme will be open to applications from all sectors from today (9th February). It will remain open until the 8th of April 2022.

· The changes to the current scheme are:

o the area at which farmers will receive higher payment has been increased from 60ha to 70 ha in recognition of the larger area farmed by full time farmers.

o extensively stocked farmers will now be in a position to receive a full Organic Farming Scheme payment provided they satisfy the minimum stocking levels that apply under the Area of Constraints Scheme.

• A guide to the Organic Farming Scheme application process and a FAQ document is available on the Department’s website to assist potential applicants at www.gov.ie/en/service/d46aec-organic-farming-scheme/

• Teagasc have developed a series of new Organic Factsheets to give information to farmers considering organic enterprise options. In addition, a new guide “Organic Farming – A Step-by-Step Guide to Conversion” has been developed and is available on the Teagasc website www.teagasc.ie/rural-economy/organics/

• 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.

• Copies of the Organic Farming Scheme terms and conditions are available on the Department's organics page at www.gov.ie/en/service/d46aec-organic-farming-scheme/


ENDS