Thursday, 26 May 2022
Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine
160. To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the initiatives that he is undertaking to promote organic farming as a pathway for farmers in Ireland; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26918/22]
I believe there is tremendous potential in the organic sector in Ireland and I committed to seeing it develop significantly over the lifetime of the next CAP.
The target in the current Programme for Government is to align the utilisable agricultural area under organic production in Ireland with the EU average of 7.5% which is also consistent with the target proposed by Agri-Food Strategy 2030. I am fully committed to attaining this ambitious goal and all our organic policies are designed with this in mind.
I have introduced changes to the scheme by reducing the required stocking rate and also by increasing the area paid at the higher rate from 60 hectares to 70 hectares, measures which I believe will encourage new entrants to organic farming.
A budget of €21 million was allocated to the Organic Farming Scheme in 2022, an increase of €5 million from the previous year. This allocation supports the 1,734 existing contracts in the Organic Farming Scheme. This I believe will assist in achieving our target of 7.5% organic area as outlined in the Programme for Government.
For the years 2023 – 2027, I have proposed the allocation of €256 million under the new CAP to continue the development and growth of the organic sector.
The Organic Strategy forum has met twice in 2022 and the theme of the most recent meeting on 19 May 2022 was “Driving participation in Organic Farming”. Following this meeting, a roadmap of activities in advance of the scheme reopening in late 2022 is currently being developed to promote the pathways to organic farming.
My Department is also undertaking a trade mission to Germany in July 2022 to coincide with Biofach, the largest organic trade fair in Europe. This will enable organic client companies to build new business and generate new leads and ensure that all efforts are undertaken to expand the export market for Irish Organic produce.