Ireland renews commitment to organic agriculture

The Irish Republic this week renewed its commitment to developing organic agriculture. Applications for the country’s 2012 Organic Farming Scheme are now being accepted, Irish minister of state at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Shane McEntee announced on Wednesday.

Contracts run for a minimum of five years and successful applicants qualify for up to EUR 283/hectare during conversion and EUR 142/hectare for fully organic land. The scheme started in 2007 and now requires applicants to submit a business plan and to undertake an approved training course if they have not already done so.

“The Organic Farming Scheme is a stepping stone to entering organic production and thereby availing of the potential market opportunities that clearly exist,” McEntee told journalists. “My job is to encourage farmers to avail themselves of these opportunities and by doing so, maximise their potential income.”

The minister of state also noted that: “the proposals presented by the Commission refer to provisions for innovative actions promoting a resource-efficient, productive and low-emission agricultural sector.” He added: “We must therefore continue to promote organic farming, which is compatible with the protection and improvement of the environment.”

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Peter Crosskey is based in the UK.