While it is true that input prices have fallen in recent times, farmers still continue to experience strong price inflation. This, coupled with a series of severe weather events in the past years have left Irish farmers exploring their options with many seriously considering organic farming. This is evident by the strong turnout at many of the organic farm walks that have taken place in recent times where farmers can see for themselves how organic farming works. It seems that many farms in Ireland are already at stocking rates low enough to replace expensive chemical fertiliser and imported concentrates with multispecies grass and red clover. This is making organic farming more attractive to farmers who are willing to back themselves that they have the skill levels and understanding of how healthy soil works to farm organically.
Another indicator is the increasing number of successful applications to the Organic Farming Scheme (OFS). All 1050 eligible applicant farmers who applied to the Organic Farmer Scheme this year have been accepted according to the Department of Agriculture, Food, and the Marine (DAFM).
In response to this news, Minister of State Pippa Hackett expressed her satisfaction by saying “we have over 5,000 participants in the Organic Farming Scheme in 2024, and a tripling of the area being farmed organically since 2020. These are really significant milestones, and they show that the organic sector in Ireland is continues to grow at a significant pace.”
With Teagasc about to commence research in 2024 which is hoped to set out blueprints for organic beef and lamb production, and Bord Bia continuing to open markets for Irish organic produce, the progress within the organic sector continues to gather momentum. This is welcome news as Ireland’s Climate Action Plan has a target of 10% of land area being farmed organically by 2030. This latest tranche of the Organic Farming Scheme means the land area farmed organically will now be approximately 225,000 ha (5%).
Further information on the Organic Farming Scheme (OFS) can be found here.