The Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) Pippa Hackett has today (Wednesday, January 26) confirmed the reopening of the Organic Farming Scheme (OFS).

From February 9, new applications can be made for the OFS, which may include a number of proposed changes. The closing date for applications will be April 8, 2022.

Minister Hackett revealed that this year’s budget has been increased in a bid to attract more farmers into organic production.

“The increased budget of an extra €5 million 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,” Hackett outlined.

There are currently almost 1,800 farmers in the scheme, with annual payments amounting to approximately €10.5 million.

Organic Farming Scheme

In a statement, it was confirmed that the minister had submitted some proposed changes to the scheme to the department’s Rural Development Programme (RDP) monitoring committee for consideration.

The two proposed changes are as follows:

  1. The area at which farmers will receive higher payment has been increased from 60ha to 70ha in recognition of the larger area farmed by fulltime farmers;
  2. Extensively stocked farmers will now be in a position to receive a full OFS payment provided that they have a stocking rate of 0.15 livestock units (LU) per hectare.

Th proposed change on stocking rate will mean that an extra one million hectares of land will now be eligible for full payment.

Hackett said that the OFC scheme will be finalised when that process is completed.

“The changes I am submitting to the monitoring committee demonstrate my determination to encourage every type of farmer to consider going organic.

“These improvements also highlight my commitment to using every lever I can to increase to 7.5% the area of land under organic production,” Hackett stated.

“The next Common Agricultural Policy (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 the rates are increased they will also apply to existing participants in the scheme,” the minister concluded.

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