An additional 1,050 farmers have been accepted into the 2024 Organic Farming Scheme, taking the number of participants to more than 5,000 farmers, Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture Pippa Hackett has announced.
The 2024 tranche accepted all eligible applications out of 1,200 submitted in total.
The latest wave of new farmers entering the scheme will take the land area farmed organically to 225,000ha or 5% of all farmland, which is three times the area that was under organics in 2020.
Government’s overarching organic target stands at 10% of all farmland by 2030, meaning that the organic area is now half way towards this target.
To achieve this target, the CAP Organic Farming Scheme increased annual payments, as well as providing for lump sums to those entering the scheme to help with conversion costs.
Minister Hackett commented that organics can be a viable option for those with lower stocking rates and a willingness to eliminate chemical fertilisers.
“These are really significant milestones, and they show that the organic sector in Ireland continues to grow at a significant pace,” she said.
“Many farmers in Ireland are at stocking rates where they can easily replace expensive chemical fertiliser and imported concentrates with multispecies grass and red clover.
“It takes a high level of skill and understanding of how healthy soil works to trust yourself to farm organically, and Irish farmers are well able for this challenge.”
The minister urged all farmers to at least consider the option of converting to organics, reiterating that Teagasc is engaging in research this year to lay out system benchmarking figures for organic beef and lamb.
Minister Hackett stated that she remains “confident” that Bord Bia will continue opening up export markets for organic produce as it comes on stream.
“Although input prices have fallen, farmers have experienced serious price inflation and bad weather for the last number of years,” she continued.
“For those who have not yet made the change, I would urge them to attend one of the many organic farm walks that will take place later this year and see for themselves on the ground how an organic farm works.”