Thursday, 8 December 2005
Department of Agriculture and Food
Question 49: To ask the Minister for Agriculture and Food the level of investment in organic farming here by comparison with conventional farming; the level of support provided by her Department for organic versus conventional farming; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38387/05]
My Department directs a substantial amount of funding into the organic sector in proportion to its size. Organic farmers, while entitled to the investments and supports available to conventional farmers, can also avail of additional supports under the rural environment protection scheme, REPS, and the scheme of grant aid for the development of the organic sector.
Organic farmers in REPS can draw down a substantial extra payment. In 2004, my Department paid almost €4 million directly to organic farmers and that has risen to €5.3 million this year to date. The total paid to organic farmers since REPS began amounts to over €31 million. I provided €1.2 million this year for the scheme of grant aid for the development of the organic sector, to support investment both on-farm and off-farm, and I intend to ensure that grant aid will continue to be available to support modernisation and innovation in this important sector.