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Minister Cuffe alerts farmers to 17 May 2010 deadline for Applications for Organic Farming Scheme

The Minister for Sustainable Transport, Horticulture and Planning, Ciaran Cuffe TD, today reminded farmers that the closing date for applications for the Organic Farming Scheme is Monday 17 May.  The deadline is fixed by EU Regulations and no applications can be accepted after that.

"Farmers should give serious consideration to joining this Scheme," Minister Cuffe said.  "There are real opportunities in the organic sector.  In spite of the economic downturn, the demand for organic food is steady and will continue to grow.  The Irish organic retail market was estimated to be worth €124 million in 2009, compared to €66 million in 2006 and €38 million in 2003."

The Organic Farming Scheme provides for annual payments of up to €212 per hectare during the two-year period that it takes for a new entrant to the sector to achieve full organic status, and €106 per hectare after that.  This means that farmer with an average-sized farm of 32 hectares[1] could receive payments of €6,784 a year for the first two years and €3,392 a year for a further three year.  (For smaller horticulture units of up to 6 hectares, the payment rates are €283 per hectare initially and €142 per hectare in the third and subsequent years.)  "These payments are attractive," Minister Cuffe said, "particularly given that a farmer does not have to convert his or her entire holding to organic status, which allows new entrants to explore the possibilities of the organic sector without having to make a total commitment."

Farmers in REPS 4 can also join the Organic Farming Scheme, as can those applying for the new Agri-Environment Options Scheme (AEOS).  However farmers in REPS 3 with contracts ending on or after 31 May cannot apply for the Organic Farming Scheme this year.  Details of the Organic Farming Scheme can be found on the website of the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food at



Date Released: 06 May 2010