Organic funding rises by 33pc, but newcomers may have to wait for inclusion

There will be a 33pc increase in funding for the organic farming scheme under Budget 2021.

However, it remains to be clarified if this will enable the scheme to be opened to new entrants or will only extend to existing participants in the scheme.

In a statement following the announcement, Agriculture Minister Charlie McConalogue stated his department will incentivise climate and environmental actions and by prioritising funding for organic farming it is doing just that.

This move reflects the overall position taken by the European Commission to increase the land area under organic production to 25pc by 2030 under the Farm to Fork strategy.

Currently in Ireland there are 2,356 organic operators, of whom 1,850 are farmers.

This translates to 2.4pc of land certified organic (approximately 74,000ha) – which falls far short of the European average of 7pc.

Under the current rural development programme the organic farming scheme opened on three separate occasions for a short period and those in the organic sector say this has not facilitated the number of farmers wishing to convert to organic farming in Ireland.

Sales of organic food in Europe are booming, with the market worth approximately €37bn in 2018 in the European Union alone.

The EU has targets of 25pc of farmland being organic by 2030 and reducing the use of chemical pesticides by 50pc.

Covid-19 has also had a positive impact on sales, with many organic producers struggling to keep up with demand as consumers prioritise health and well being during the pandemic.

Irish Independent

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