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Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnanehttps://www.thatsfarming.com/
Catherina Cunnane hails from a sixth-generation drystock and specialised pedigree suckler enterprise in Co. Mayo. She currently holds the positions of editor and general manager at That's Farming, having joined the firm during its start-up phase in 2015.
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OFS: Proposed changes aimed at attracting full-time and extensive farmers

Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Senator Pippa Hackett, intends to re-open the Organic Farming Scheme to new applicants on February 9th, 2022.

Hackett secured additional funding to the tune of €5m for new entrant organic farmers in Budget 2022.

According to the minister, the increased budget will:

  • Encourage further uptake of organic farming;
  • Offer a viable income to farmers;
  • Assist Ireland in meeting the “ambitious” targets in the Programme for Government.
2022 Organic Farming Scheme changes

The minister has submitted some proposed changes regarding the scheme’s entry and payment structure to the Department’s Rural Development Programme monitoring committee for its views.

She confirmed that the DAFM will finalise the scheme towards the end of this process.

Hackett stated that the changes “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.”

The changes to the current scheme that the minister proposes are:

  1. The area at which farmers will receive higher payment has been increased from 60ha to 70 ha in recognition of the larger area farmed by full-time farmers;
  2. Extensively stocked farmers will now be in a position to receive a full Organic Farming Scheme payment provided they satisfy the minimum stocking levels that apply under the Area of Natural Constraints Scheme.

The minister believes these proposals will make the scheme “more attractive to a lot more farmers”.

“With higher input costs forecast this year for farmers, expanding market opportunities for Irish organic produce and the drive for Irish farming to be more environmentally friendly, now is surely the time for all Irish farmers to give serious consideration to joining the scheme.”

Organic farming: Payment rates:

The Organic Farming Scheme is an agri-environment measure under the Department of Agriculture’s RDP.

Farmers entering into a contract could qualify for yearly payments of up to €220 per hectare during the conversion period.

They can avail of up to €170 per hectare when they have achieved full organic status.

The DAFM issues higher payment rates for organic horticultural and tillage farmers.

Over-subscription

If the scheme is over-subscribed, the DAFM will determine successful applications by a ranking and a selection process.

It will award marks for each sector with the aim of increasing the area under organic production, while prioritising areas deemed to be in deficit.

The Organic Strategy Group has deemed the following areas as deficit:

  • Dairy;
  • Tillage;
  • Horticulture.

In conclusion, the minister confirmed that the closing date for applications will be April 8th, 2022.

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