Organic farming in Ireland: should you convert?

In this article, we take a look at organic farming in Ireland, the programs and incentives, and the process involved.

There are currently 2,127 organic farms in Ireland, of which more than 1,700 are farmers. This group operates less than 2% of Irish farmland.

Organic farms are mainly from Lin counties in the southwest of Ireland including Cork, Limerick and Tipperary.

Organic farming in Ireland

The Irish dairy industry consumes less than 100 of its organic producers.

The demand for organic milk is exceptional, especially for organic winter milk. Compared to conventional milk, organic milk producers receive a higher price.

For example, organic milk producers are subject to a higher premium of up to 60 c / L for the supply of winter milk.

Overall, the organic market is booming, especially in Europe. The higher price available for organic products compared to non-organic products can be up to 100%.

Therefore, it is possible to view organic dairy farming as a viable option for farmers across the country, depending on how a business is run.

A combination of high yields, low input costs and attractive dairy premiums from suppliers is essential to ensure a sustainable and successful organic dairy farm.

Programs and incentives available to organic farmers

Through the Organic Agriculture Program (OFS), the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Marine provides financial support to farmers to encourage the production of organic food.

How to qualify:

  • Produce livestock and plant products according to EU organic standards;
  • Complete an approved training course;
  • Operate and manage the lands included in the OFS application;
  • Register with a private control body and be approved as an organic operator;
  • Have a minimum agricultural area of ​​3 hectares – except for horticultural producers, where the minimum agricultural area is 1 hectare.

Payout rate


Organic horticultural producers are eligible for the following payments on the basis that at least 50% of the area eligible for the organic payment is cultivated each year.

Horticultural space Horticultural area> 6ha and up to 60ha Horticultural area> 60ha
In reconversion 300 € / ha 220 € / ha 60 € / ha
Full biological status 200 € / ha 170 € / ha 30 € / ha

Organic plow producers who operate six hectares or more are eligible for the following payments:

Tillage area Cultivated area> 20ha and up to 60ha Cultivated area> 60ha
In reconversion 260 € / ha 220 € / ha 60 € / ha
Full biological status 170 € / ha 170 € / ha 30 € / ha
All other farms:

Organic farmers with an area of ​​3 ha or more of usable agricultural area are eligible for the following payments:

Cultivated area of> 3ha up to 60ha Cultivated area> 60ha
In reconversion 220 € / ha 60 € / ha
Full biological status 170 € / ha 30 € / ha, Additional Option:

In addition, a payment of € 30 / ha / year is available when a farmer incorporates red clover into existing lawns. This subsequent payment is subject to a maximum of 10 hectares.


Organic Capital Investment Scheme (OCIS) provides financial assistance to farmers to ensure a steady supply of high quality organic products to the market.

OCIS is governed by terms and conditions similar to those of TAMS. Farmers can get a 40% subsidy up to € 80,000.

Likewise, young organic farmers are also eligible for this payment. For eligible young organic farmers who meet the specific eligibility criteria, the standard rate of aid is 60% on investments up to a ceiling of € 80,000.

To be involved

To get started, the first step is to apply for an organic license. You can do this by submitting an application to a certified organic body.

Second, following the request, the farmer is subject to an annual fee, inspections and proper record keeping.

Before selling products such as beef, milk or cereals organically, the farm must participate in a period of organic conversion. Then, the conversion period lasts 24 months.

Pressure and additional requirements

You cannot house animals in a 100% full slatted house. Cattle should have access to a bedding area at all times when housed.

Additionally, the limits for stocking rates are set at 170 kgN / ha, with average stocking rates standing at 1.4 UL / ha.

Then, as a condition of organic certification, the organic ration also has certain limitations.

It is recommended that farmers maximize the availability of grass and introduce the correct selection and appropriate systems in their farms in order to reduce feed costs.

The organic concentrates required for animal feed are just under 600 € / tonne.

You must feed non-GMO rations to all animals from the date of conversion.

Compared to conventional agriculture, artificial fertilizers, fungicides, pesticides and insecticides are not allowed.

In addition, when sick animals are present on the farm, treatment is administered as needed.

Also, part of the conversion process is for a veterinarian to prepare an animal health plan.

In addition, all drugs introduced or used on the farm are counted in terms of record keeping.

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