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Thursday 13 December 2018

Organic Farming Scheme opens to new applications (up to €170/ha in payments)

Some producers are struggling to keep up with consumer demand for organic beef and other products
Some producers are struggling to keep up with consumer demand for organic beef and other products
Ciaran Moran

Ciaran Moran

The Organic Farming Scheme (OFS) is to re-open with immediate effect, the Government has confirmed.

Under the scheme 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.

A ranking and selection process will also be put in place that will give priority to the areas that are deemed to be in deficit i.e. horticulture cereals and dairy.

Latest figures indicate that there are now some 72,000 hectares under organic production, an increase of nearly 50pc on the position at the start of the Programme in 2014.

The closing date for applications will be December 19, 2018.

Applications for the scheme must be made online, and there will be no requirement to use an Agricultural Advisor to make the application

On announcing the re-opening of the Scheme Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine said he 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.

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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.

“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 Minister said.

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