Killeen Welcomes Relaunch Of Organic Farming Scheme
A scheme that has provided financial assistance to organic farmers throughout County Clare since 2007 has been relaunched following a review by the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food.
[ClickPress, Wed Jan 06 2010] Junior Agriculture Minister Tony Killeen today confirmed that with immediate effect, farmers can once again apply for support under the Organic Farming Scheme and for grants under both the On-Farm and Off-Farm Schemes for the Development of the Organic Sector.
The Organic Farming Scheme is an agri-environment measure under the Department's Rural Development Programme 2007-13. Farmers may enter into a contract for a minimum of five years and could qualify for yearly payments of up to EUR283 per hectare during the conversion period and up to EUR142 per hectare when they have achieved full organic status. Following a review of the Scheme during 2009, applicants will now be required to submit a business plan and, if they have not previously taken part in the Organic Supplementary Measure in REPS, to undertake an approved training course.
According to Minister of State Killeen: “Despite the budgetary constraints the funding available remains adequate to ensure that the Programme for Government target to convert a minimum 5 per cent of acreage to organic farmland by 2012 can re realised. The changes in the Scheme are designed to ensure that the farmers joining it are those who have most to offer to the growth of the organic sector so that it can meet the increasing demand from consumers for organic produce."
The Clare T.D. said the Government is committed to developing the organic sector as an opportunity for Irish farmers and the Irish agri-food sector in general. He added; “I believe these Schemes are important initiatives in this development and I warmly welcome their relaunch. I understand there are a number of organic farmers and processors who are ready to make significant investments as soon as grants are available and I would encourage them to start applying now."
The Grant Schemes, which support investment by both producers and processors, had been a major success since their launch in 2007. They were closed temporarily in mid-2009 because applications on hands at that point were enough to use up the funding provided for the year. There had been a significant increase in interest in the scheme and a substantial increase in the number of applications and the amount of aid paid over the past number of years.
The number of successful applications increased from 82 in 2007 to 123 in 2009, an increase of 50%, while expenditure under the schemes went from EUR594,000 in 2007 to EUR1.5 million in 2009, an increase of over 150%. The on-farm scheme provides grant aid of 40% of the cost up to a maximum grant of EUR60,000. For off-farm investments, the maximum grant is EUR500,000.
Notes to Editor:
- High-resolution images of Tony Killeen, Fianna Fail TD for Clare, and Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, with special responsibility for Forestry, Fisheries and the Marine, may be downloaded from www.dunphyprimages.com
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