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Teagasc to Provide Courses for New Organic Scheme Applicants

Another round of regional Teagasc training courses for land owners considering converting to organic farming will take place in mid April. The course is a mandatory requirement for all new applicants to the Organic Farming Scheme recently re-launched by the Minister of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney, TD.

Organic farming can be a profitable alternative to conventional farming. In Ireland the sector is growing steadily; at present there are 1,346 organic producers in the country with 58,566 hectares of land under organic production. It is envisaged that the area farmed organically will increase further due to strong demand for organic produce, the suitability of many farms to organic conversion, and Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine Scheme incentives.

Under the Organic Farming Scheme, farmers may enter into a contract for a minimum of five years and could qualify for yearly payments of up to €283 per hectare during the conversion period, and up to €142 per hectare upon achieving full organic status. The Scheme conditions include the requirement to complete an approved training course as an essential pre-requisite to joining the Scheme. This course will be a requirement solely for new applicants to the Scheme who have not taken part in the Organic Supplementary Measure in REPS.

Teagasc Organic Training Courses
To meet demand for new applicants, Teagasc is currently organising four regional organic farming courses around the country. These 25-hour Introductions to Organic Farming courses are FETAC accredited to Level 5 standard and will be run over a four day period, commencing week starting Monday, 15 April. The venues for the course are: Ballyhaise, Castlerea, Fermoy and Macroom.

Dan Clavin, Teagasc organic specialist said: “These courses are an excellent way of learning about what is involved in organic farming across a range of enterprises. They are aimed primarily at those who are considering joining the Organic Farming Scheme, but also at anyone else interested in learning about organic farming. The courses meet the requirements outlined by the Minister for new applicants to the Organic Farming Scheme”.

Continuing he said: “The courses involve both indoor sessions and visits to local organic farms. Apart from learning about the principles and standards involved in organic production, participants will also receive training on completing the farm business plan that is required for the Scheme”.

Course topics include the principles of organic production, organic standards and regulations, and the economics and market opportunities for produce. Admission is €220 per person, or family, and pre-booking is essential. Further details and application forms are available from Helen McNulty, Teagasc, Athenry 091-845200 or helen.mcnulty@teagasc.ie