Surge in number of farmers going organic

‘Unprecedented’ interest sees figures more than double

 

The organic farming scheme has seen a major surge in applications with the vast majority of applicants converting to organic farming for the first time.

Some 870 applications were received by the Department of Agriculture before the scheme closed at the end of May.

This level of interest was described as unprecedented by the Minister of State with responsibility for organic farming, Tom Hayes.

“To put this in context, since the introduction of the organic farming scheme in 2007, the maximum number of applications received in any year was 380, in 2010,” he said.

“The fact that 504 of these applicants are converting to organics for the first time highlights increased recognition of the potential opportunities that exist for organic producers, both at home and abroad.”

The increased interest is partly explained by several improvements to the scheme which include increased rates of payment and measures aimed at encouraging horticultural and tillage farmers to go organic.

More than 58 per cent of the land owned by applicants is being brought into organic production for the first time.

Mr Hayes said this was “a landmark day for the organic farming sector” and it augured well for the future of organic production in Ireland.