The Organic Farming Scheme (OFS) is funded through the Rural Development Programme 2014-2020. Due to the popularity and high demand for the scheme, the funding allocation of €10 million per year has now been exhausted and the scheme is currently closed to new applicants.
The Organic Unit within the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine operate the scheme through which prospective organic farmers enter a 5 year contract with the first two years being conversion and the subsequent 3 years a commitment to farm organically.
The objectives of the scheme are two-fold to deliver enhanced environmental benefits and preserve biodiversity and animal welfare benefits and to encourage producers to respond to the market demand for organically produced food.
Tom Dunne winner of the 2016 Zurich farmer of the year award, which highlights innovation and dedication within the farming sector, is an organic farmer. “I was at a crossroads – I wasn’t getting enough of a return from my beef enterprise. I began researching my options. I attended some organic farm walks and spoke to other organic farmers. The Organic Farming Scheme seemed like a suitable option for me. Organic beef commands a premium price. I decided to enter into the Organic Farming scheme. I haven’t regretted my decision once in my seven years of participation in the scheme.”