Promises of up to 500 new places on the organic scheme are in doubt after figures seen by the Irish Farmers Journal show the Government expects just over 300 places will be offered.

With a drive to push organic land under the next CAP, Minister of State for Agriculture Pippa Hackett had said she was “very ambitious” to grow the sector.

“The additional €4m provided in the budget allows us to reopen a new Organic Farming Scheme in 2021 to new entrants, which will support 400 to 500 more farmers to go organic,” she said.

Government estimates

However, this has been contradicted by the Government’s own estimates, which say that organic farmer numbers will increase from 1,550 to 1,880 in 2021. The news will disappoint many farmers, as 170 were turned away when the scheme briefly reopened in 2019.

Government estimates also show a slight expected drop-off in the number of farmers participating in the Sheep Welfare Scheme but the number of farmers in receipt of ANC payments remains at 100,000.