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Organic Farming

At the end of 2010, there were 1639 organic operators in Ireland, of which 1,401 were producers and the remainder were processors of organic produce. Total area of land under organic production has increased by almost 65% since 2002 and was 52,821 hectares at the end of 2010.  This equates to just under 1.2% of the total utilisable agricultural land area (UAA) in the country. The Programme for Government target is to have 5% of the UAA under organic production by 2012. In response the Department published its Organic Farming Action Plan 2008-2012 in 2008. It has four main objectives;

  •  increase production in line with market trends,
  •  increase the knowledge base,  
  • develop the organic market at home and abroad, and
  • encourage the development of public procurement opportunities for organic products.

The Plan outlines over 60 actions to assist in achieving the Government target.

The organic sector receives substantial financial support through REPS under a special organic measure and the Organic Farming Scheme which is now a stand-alone organic scheme. A total of €10.5 million has been allocated under the Organic farming Scheme to cover outstanding payments and 2011 payments under the scheme.

The Organic Farming Scheme, introduced in August 2007 under the Rural Development Programme 2007-2013 seeks to encourage producers to respond to the market demand for organic food. Following a review of the scheme in 2009 applicants who were not previously in the organic farming supplementary measure of REPS have to complete an approved training course before joining the Scheme. In addition, all applicants now have to submit a five-year business plan. These criteria aim to identify those applicants who are most likely to deliver increased organic output nationally. In particular it will target support to those operators who intend producing products which suit our climatic and infrastructural conditions but are still under-supplied.

Organic farmers and processors can also avail of the capital grant schemes which were originally launched in June 2007 and were re-launched at the beginning of January 2010. These grant aid Schemes provide aid for investments in equipment and facilities, both on and off-farm. €2m was provided for these schemes in 2010 and a further €1.97m euros has been allocated for 2011.