317 farmers have applied for conversion to organic farming under the Organic Farming Scheme, which closed last weekend.
Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Senator Pippa Hackett, said the high number of applications revealed the importance of the scheme as well as the “strong geographical spread” of entrants.
“If all those who applied are eligible and go ahead and convert, we will see an increase of more than 20% in the number of famers who will farm organically in Ireland supported by the Department’s Organic Farming Scheme.
“So between that and the geographical spread of applications being so broad, the indications are very positive.
“The breakdown by sector, and the land area involved, will only be available when the farmers’ 2021 Basic Payment Scheme applications are lodged later this month, but I’m very hopeful that all types of farming will be well represented.
“I also expect that we should be able to accommodate all the eligible farmers who wish to go ahead, subject to their applications meeting the criteria.”
Meanwhile, funding of €4m was secured to facilitate the re-opening of the Scheme this year.
Increasing the number of farmers operating organically is a key element in the National Organic Strategy and the move is expected to further develop the sector and help align the area - under organic production in Ireland - with the EU average.
“Demand for all types of organic produce is strong right across both domestic and European markets,” Minister Hackett continued.
“Organic farming also cuts down on input costs and is less intensive leading to a better lifestyle for many farm families.
“Because of this and indeed other advantages, I will continue to drive growth in the organic sector in any way I can.”