Minister Hackett to reopen Organic Farming Scheme
Updated: Feb 3
Minister Hackett to reopen Organic Farming Scheme and reveals plans she has submitted to RDP Monitoring Committee
Proposed changes aimed at increasing areas paid and attracting full time as well as extensive farmers
The Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Senator Pippa Hackett today announced that she intends to reopen the Organic Farming Scheme to new applicants on 9th February. The budget for 2022 has been increased by a further €5m for new entrants, after the Minister secured additional funding for this priority area.
Revealing that she has submitted some proposed changes to the Department’s Rural Development Programme (RDP) Monitoring Committee for their views, and that the scheme will be finalised at the end of that process, the Minister said: “the changes I am submitting to the Monitoring Committee demonstrate my determination to encourage every type of farmer to consider going organic. These improvements highlight my commitment to using every lever I can to increase to 7.5% the area of land under organic production.”
The changes to the current scheme that the Minister is proposing are:
1. The area at which farmers will receive higher payment has been increasedfrom 60ha to 70 ha in recognition of the larger area farmed by full time farmers.
2. 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.
Commenting on the changes, the Minister said:
“I believe these proposals to the entry and payment structure of the scheme will make the scheme more attractive to a lot more farmers. With higher input costs forecast this year for farmers, expanding market opportunities for Irish organic produce and the drive for Irish farming to be more environmentally friendly, now is surely the time for all Irish farmers to give serious consideration to joining the scheme.”
The Organic Farming Scheme is an agri-environment measure under the Department of Agriculture’s RDP. Farmers entering into a contract 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 horticultural and tillage farmers.
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.
Referring to further improvements to the scheme which she expects under the new CAP, Minister Hackett said:
“The next CAP will also see an expanded organic farming scheme. While the rates are not yet set I want to assure farmers who join this year that if they rates are increased they will also apply to existing participants in the scheme”.
The Minister concluded:
“When we reopened the Organic Farming Scheme last year, I committed to doing so again this year subject to available funding. Now, having secured that funding, I am delighted to be in a position to offer new paces on the scheme to interested farmers. The increased budget of an extra €5m will encourage further uptake of organic farming, offer a viable income to farmers, and also assist us in meeting the ambitious targets set out in the Programme for Government.”
The closing date for applications will be 8th April 2022.
A guide to the Organic Farming Scheme application process and a FAQ document is available on the Department’s website to assist potential applicants. https://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/organics.
The Organic Division in DAFM can be contacted on 053 91 63400 or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org