The Irish Department of Agriculture have received a record number of applications – over 800 – by the closing date of the end of May for this year’s Organic Farming Scheme.
The scheme started in 2007 and the maximum number of applications ever received was 380 in 2010. This year’s applications include 504 farmers turning to organic for the first time and the total acreage is over 113,000. The contract for which farmers apply lasts for a minimum of five years with standard rate yearly grant payments of up to £382 per acre during the conversion period and up to £296 per acre when they have achieved full organic status. Horticultural enterprises fare better with the rates increasing to £521 and £345 respectively per acre.
Irish agricultural minister Tom Hayes said: “This is a landmark day for the organic farming sector”, commenting that the significant increase in area brought under organic production for the first time (58% of the applications) augurs well for the future of organic production in Ireland. The scheme is co-funded by the European Agricultural Fund for rural Development (EAFRD).