IFA Organic Project Team Chair John Curran welcomes the re-opening of the Organic Farm Scheme (OFS) to new entrants. The scheme will close to applicants on Friday, December 8th.
The budget for the OFS has increased again this year to €57 million, up €21 million on the €36 million allocation for 2023. The OFS last re-opened in October 2022 and over 2000 new applicants entered the scheme, doubling the number of organic farms in Ireland.
There are now approximately 180,000 hectares under organic production in Ireland, representing 4% of total agricultural land.
“Ensuring that markets are available for additional organic production and that organic farmers receive a sustainable margin for their produce must be a priority and not the additional land base attracted into the system. We cannot have a situation where the market is saturated for existing farmers, or that any existing premium is lost,” he said.
While acknowledging that significant investment has been made on market development this year, it is also imperative that the Government continue to stimulate demand for organic produce in order to ensure there is a proper functioning market for organic farmers.
“The launch of the new organic hub should help to prevent leakage from the system. The role of the hub is to act as a central platform connecting organic farmers and facilitating the buying and selling of organic livestock and produce across the country,” John Curran concluded.