Approvals have started to issue to in the region of 270 farmers who applied to join the Organic Farming Scheme (OFS) in March and April 2021.
The announcement was made on Friday by Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine Senator Pippa Hackett.
Minister Hackett said the 270-plus approvals equate to 85% of the 317 applications received, adding: “Other farmers will get theirs once outstanding issues have been resolved.
"My Department has already been in contact with the farmers who have not yet received an approval and my officials are working with them on whatever needs to be rectified.”
Increase in organic land
The minister outlined that the latest applications to the OFS amount to 14,000ha of additional land entering the scheme. This, she said, will increase the area of land farmed organically in Ireland by 20%.
The latest intake to the scheme looked to encourage higher participation from horticulture, tillage and dairy applicants by offering a higher payment and higher weighting, with the latter not coming into play due to the scheme being undersubscribed.
“Farmers who received approval for the scheme will qualify for an annual payment of up to €220 per hectare during the conversion period and up to €170 per hectare when their land has achieved full organic status. Higher payment rates are also available for organic horticulture and tillage farmers.”
The 317 applications received in 2021 fell short of the target figure of 500 new farmers entering the scheme in 2021.
Minister Hackett said she is committed to growing the numbers of farmers in the OFS, commenting that she is working hard on securing funding for future reopenings and to expand the scheme under the next CAP, which comes in to place in 2023.
“The demand for organic produce is increasing year on year and I am ambitious for the sector’s growth.
"And although this scheme prioritised the sectors for which most market demand exists, namely the dairy, horticulture and tillage sectors, I am especially pleased that everyone who was eligible to join will receive approval and I hope that continues to be the case with future schemes also.”
For anyone with queries regarding the scheme, the OFS section in the Department of Agriculture can be contacted on 076-106 4415, or by emailing email@example.com.