The Organic Farming Scheme will be open to applications from all sectors from Monday 1 March and will remain open until the 30 April, Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture Pippa Hackett has confirmed.

The reopening is expected to result in an increase of up to 30% in the number of farmers farming organically in Ireland this year.

Farmers entering the scheme could qualify for yearly payments of up to €220 per hectare during the conversion period and up to €170 per hectare when they have achieved full organic status.

Payment rates

Higher payment rates are available for organic horticulture and tillage farmers.

Minister Hackett said: “This is a really good scheme which provides farmers with the support they need to go organic so I would really encourage those considering conversion to engage with it.

“Going organic can lead to higher prices and a more sustainable way of farming. It’s less intensive, and it embraces nature and natural processes to produce organic food, for which there is a growing demand both in Ireland and across Europe.”

Priority access

The Organic Farming Scheme is an agri-environment measure under the Department's Rural Development Programme.

Minister Hackett expects the schemes funding will facilitate the entry of 400-500 new farmers into the organic farming system.

“In the event of the scheme being oversubscribed, I will be prioritising those sectors for which most market demand exists, namely the dairy, horticulture and tillage sectors,” Minister Hackett continued.

“I also want to encourage young farmers to convert to organic farming so I will be making provision in the selection process to achieve this too.

“I have ensured that farmers who were not successful in gaining entry to the previous scheme, but who have continued to farm organically, have their commitment acknowledged, through priority access.”

Applications must be made online through the Department’s online system A guide to the application process is available here.