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Organic Farming - An Overview

ORGANIC FARMING

Organic Farming is a specific system of farming whose aim is to produce quality food in a manner beneficial to the environment and to wildlife. Organic farmers practice farming in accordance with standards, which have been formulated for crop and livestock production. The thrust of these standards is to develop a system of farming that co-exists with other systems, sustains soil fertility and protects the environment, wildlife and non-renewable resources.

Organic production and labelling of organic products is controlled by European and national regulations, i.e. European Council Regulation (EEC) No. 834/2007 as amended, which is backed up by Statutory Instruments Nos. 112 of 2004 and 698 of 2007. The EU legislation allows Member States to use private inspection bodies to carry out the inspection and licensing system of organic operators. Five certification bodies are approved to carry out this work in Ireland, i.e. Institute of Marketecology (IMO), Irish Organic Farmers and Growers Association (IOFGA), Organic Trust Limited, BDAA-Demeter UK and Global Trust Certification Limited.

ASSISTANCE FOR THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE SECTOR

ORGANIC FARMING SCHEME

From 1994 to 2006, organic farmers have been supported by way of a Supplementary Measure under the Rural Environment Protection Scheme (REPS). Under the current Rural Development Programme, which runs from 2007 to 2013, there is a stand-alone Organic Farming Scheme. Organic Farmers were entitled to join REPS also until it was closed to new applications in July 2009, and are entitled to join the Agri-Environment Options Scheme (AEOS) which was launched in March 2010.

The objective of the Organic Farming Scheme is to deliver enhanced environmental and animal welfare benefits and to encourage producers to respond to the market demand for organically produced food.

To be eligible for this measure, farmers must be licensed by one of the five certification bodies approved by the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, must also register with the Organic Unit of the Department and farm organically for a minimum period of 5 years.

The payment rates are as follows:

  >=3ha and up to 55ha >55 ha 
In conversion   €212/ha €30/ha 
Full organic status €106/ha €15/ha
Horticulture Holdings Only   Horticulture Area >= 6 hectares (ha)   Horticulture Area > 6ha and up to 55ha  Horticulture Area > 55 ha  
In conversion €283/ha €212/ha €30/ha
Full organic status €142/ha €106/ha €15/ha

SCHEMES OF GRANT-AID FOR THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE ORGANIC SECTOR

Development grants are available both to farmers and to processors under the Schemes of Grant Aid for the Development of the Organic Sector, which were approved under the National Development Plan, 2007-2013. The on-farm and off-farm Schemes provide grant aid for new equipment and facilities for production, preparation, grading, packing, storage, distribution and sale of organic products. Details are as follows:

  • Grant aid of 40% for investments over €1,500;
  • Maximum on-farm grant aid of €60,000 payable over the duration of the scheme, which runs from 2007-2013;
  • Maximum off-farm grant aid of €500,000 payable over the duration of the scheme, which runs from 2007-2013.

Further information is available from the Organic Unit, Department of Agriculture Fisheries and Food, Johnstown Castle Estate, Wexford. Lo-call: 1890 200 509 or 053 9163400, Fax: 053 9143965 or e-mail: organics@agriculture.gov.ie