Shane McEntee TD, Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine announced recently that applications are now being accepted for the 2012 Organic Farming Scheme.
The Organic Farming Scheme is an agri-environment measure under the Department’s Rural Development Programme 2007-13. Farmers may enter into a contract for a minimum of five years and could qualify for yearly payments of up to €283 per hectare during the conversion period and up to €142 per hectare when they have achieved full organic status. Following a review of the Scheme during 2009, applicants are now required to submit a business plan and, if they have not previously taken part in the Organic Supplementary Measure in REPS, to undertake an approved training course.
On announcing the continuation of the Scheme in 2012, Minister McEntee emphasised that “the Organic Farming Scheme is a stepping stone to entering organic production and thereby availing of the potential market opportunities that clearly exist. My job is to encourage farmers to avail of these opportunities and by doing so, maximise their potential income.”
Minister McEntee also pointed out that proposals presented by the European Commission on the future of the Common Agricultural Policy are very positive in relation to the Organic Sector. “The proposals presented by the Commission refer to provisions for innovative actions promoting a resource-efficient, productive and low-emission agricultural sector” stated Minister McEntee. “We must therefore continue to promote organic farming, which is compatible with the protection and improvement of the environment.”
In conclusion, the Minister said that the closing date for applications will be 15 May 2011 and that decisions would be made at that stage on the level of funding and on the number of applicants that will be accepted into the scheme.