Record level of funding for the organic farming scheme secured in Budget 2023
Funding of €37m for the Organic Farming Scheme - an 80% increase on last year
A 12% increase to €112m to fund the new National Forestry Programme, which will shortly be announced
Further increase in Horticulture budget to €10 million with support continuing under Brexit Adjustment for the Mushroom and Seed Potato sectors.
Minister of State with responsibility for Land Use and Biodiversity, Senator Pippa Hackett today welcomed the allocation of up to €500m in funding specifically ringfenced for agri-environment schemes in Budget 2023, including a significantly increased allocation of €37m for the Organic Farming Scheme.
Commenting on the 80% increase in funding for the Organic Farming Scheme, Minister Hackett said:
“The Government is committed to bringing the total agricultural area under organic production to 7.5% by 2027. The 2023 budget sees an allocation of €37m to organic farming, which is an unprecedented increase and reflects the level of interest among farmers in organics.
“My Department has implemented a range of policy measures over the past two years to increase participation in Organic Farming. Even before significantly enhanced rates were announced for organics as part of the next CAP Strategic Plan, we saw a 20% increase in applications to join the Organic Farming Scheme in 2022 in comparison to 2021, bringing in an expected additional 17,000ha. Overall there has been an increase of 35% of land being farmed organically over the last two years. I believe that the additional funding announced as part of this budget will facilitate a further substantial increase in the area of land farmed organically in Ireland.”
Announcing strong support for Forestry with an allocation of over €112m for 2023, the Minister said:
“I am delighted to have secured a significant increase in the allocation for forestry for 2023, with the funding going from €100 to €112million this year. This funding will support those in the current Forestry Programme who continue to receive premiums, and will fund those new forest owners who plant under the next Programme.
We need to sustainably manage those forests we already have, and we also need to plant significant numbers of new forests. This increased budget allocation will encourage a healthy forestry sector which will help deliver on our climate, biodiversity, economic and recreational objectives. Our aim is to realise the ambition in our ‘Shared National Vision for Trees and Forests’, which anticipates the right trees in the right places for the right reasons with the right management. This strong funding allocation will help achieve that ambition.
I will be working with the Minister of Public Expenditure and Reform and other cabinet colleagues to ensure that the new Forestry Programme, which will align with our new Forestry Strategy to 2030, will provide sufficient incentive for landowners and especially farmers to contribute to a transformational national effort to plant 8,000 hectares per annum. The new Programme will shortly go to public consultation as part of the Strategic Environmental Appropriate Assessment process. This will complement the extensive consultation we have already had on preparing the Shared National Vision, which informs the Forest Strategy currently in preparation. That consultation showed that there is a positive attitude among the public towards our forests, as well as a desire for the expansion of the forest estate.
We have worked very hard this year to address the issues with the forestry licensing system, and we are now on track to substantially increase the licencing output for this year compared to last year. With the changes we have introduced, and our continued commitment to more efficient and effective processes, I believe we are now well placed to move into a new era for forestry in Ireland.
Minister Hackett also welcomed a funding of €10 million for the horticultural sector. This will mark a milestone doubling of the horticultural budget in recent years. Support will also be available under the Brexit Adjustment Reserve for the sector, supporting areas such as mushroom and seed potatoes.
Minister Hackett commented:
“Our domestic horticultural growers play a vital role in producing safe, nutritious and local food in an environmentally sustainable manner. I am committed to supporting our growers - the domestic horticulture sector is a sector of immense importance, and one that we want to protect and enhance.”
Commenting on the allocation of funding for EIPs, Minister Hackett said:
“The success of the current EIPs under the RDP has been widely recognised, and I was delighted to secure a substantial budget allocation for EIPs in 2023 of €21m. Some of the existing EIPs are coming to the end of their project terms, and we will be issuing a new Call for Proposals in 2023 under the new CAP Strategic Plan. In preparation for such a Call in 2023, I intend to hold a public consultation and a conference before the end of this year to identify possible themes for the 2023 Call for Proposals. I expect the proposed themes for our next Call to include environmental priorities, as well as issues such as animal welfare, farm safety and improving the gender a balance in Irish farming.”