Compensation for Irish farmers affected by ash dieback may be included in the upcoming budget, according to Minister of State for land use and biodiversity, Pippa Hackett. In an interview with Agriland journalist Aisling O’Brien at the National Ploughing Championships, Hackett stated that support would be provided to farmers involved in forestry who have been impacted by ash dieback. She also clarified the details of Ireland’s €1.3 billion Forestry Programme 2023-2027, stating that the funding covers a 20-year period and aims to provide premium payments to farmers who plant trees. Hackett acknowledged that there were delays in gaining approval from the European Commission but emphasized that the process for applying for state aid would not begin until January 2023.
Regarding the opening of the Organic Farming Scheme, Hackett stated that an official date has not been set yet. The budgetary requirements for next year need to be finalized first. She mentioned that the scheme opened in October last year and expected it to open around the same time this year and remain open until mid-December. Hackett expressed the importance of all farmers embracing organic farming, particularly in the dairy sector. She highlighted the stability of organic prices over the years and the benefits of replacing high-input items with crops that can be grown on farms.
The government has set a target of having 10% of agricultural land farmed organically by 2030. Currently, the figure stands at close to 4%. When asked if she believed this target was achievable, Hackett expressed confidence that it could even be surpassed. She emphasized the government’s commitment to promoting organic farming and encouraging more farmers to make the transition.