Farmers are being reminded that the closing date to apply for the Organic Farming Scheme is next Friday 30 April.

Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture Pippa Hackett said that she believes the future is bright for organic farmers.

"Demand is strong for all types of organic produce, prices are often higher and, crucially, it’s also a less intensive way of farming, which comes with lower input costs and which embraces nature and natural processes to produce food.”

Funding increase

New funding has allowed an increase of 30% in the number of farmers in the scheme, which opened in March.

Annual payments of up to €220/ha while converting to organic and €170/ha thereafter are available to farmers under the scheme, which is an agri-environment measure under the Department's Rural Development Programme.

Higher rates of payment are available to organic horticulture and tillage farms.

Urging farmers to make an application and adding that space for all enterprise types is available in the scheme, Minister Hackett added: “The EU is totally committed to supporting this way of farming and organic farms will be fully integrated into the new CAP scheme when it eventually rolls out in 2023.

“Applications can be made through my Department’s online system and the application process itself is quite simple and straightforward.

“Those interested can avail of a wealth of information and guidance from my Department, Teagasc or their own farm adviser and the organic certification bodies.

“So I would really appeal to those interested in applying to do so, while there is still time," she said.