Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Andrew Doyle T.D., has announced the re-opening of the Organic Farming Scheme (OFS) with immediate effect.
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 strategy for the development of the Organic Sector for the period up to 2025. The Terms of Reference of the Group included assessing the case for a reopening of the Organic Farming Scheme. This 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."
He concluded: “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. 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”.
The Organic Farming Scheme is an agri-environment measure under the Department's Rural Development Programme 2014-2020. 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 per hectare a year 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. Latest figures indicate that there are now some 72,000 hectares under organic production, an increase of nearly 50% on the position at the start of the Programme in 2014.
Closing date for applications will be 19 December, 2018 - details of terms and conditions are available on the Department's organics page at http://www.agriculture.gov.ie/farmingsectors/organicfarming/organicsscheme/organicfarmingscheme/