Carrots the organic trust

Organic Farming Scheme - OFS

The Organic Farming Scheme is a 5 year scheme run by the Department of Agriculture, Food and The Marine (DAFM) which provides financial assistance to Organic Farmers.

Frequently asked Questions

If you have questions about the Organic Farming Scheme 2022 (OFS) we have compiled the answers to some frequently asked questions below.

Contact the Organic Trust for more information or to request an application pack, by phone 045 882377 or email to [email protected]

The Organic Farming Scheme (OFS) is currently closed. It's due to reopen in October 2022, dates yet to be confirmed.

The rates for the 2023 OFS have been announced. A new calculator has been developed to assess the value of converting to organic and calculate the new rates of payment. This is available at

https://cap-calculators.apps.rhos.agriculture.gov.ie/

Full details of the terms and conditions for the previous tranche of OFS can be viewed here The new T&C will be added once released by DAFM.

APPLICATION

To join the Organic Farming Scheme these are the three steps you need to take.

  1. Firstly, complete an application form to register with the Organic Trust – Click Here to find Application Form and Conversion Plan Template
  2. Secondly, complete page 1 of the Org.1 form and return it to the Organic Trust office.
  3. Thirdly, to make application for payment under the Organic Farming Scheme, you must be registered on www.agfood.ie If you are not already registered, you can register via this link

We will notify DAFM that we have received your completed registration form and DAFM will activate your www.agfood.ie entry to facilitate your on-line OFS application. The OT will let you know once this has been activated. You then must complete the on-line OFS application by the closing date.

Ofs plan

CONVERSION PLAN

Applicants must prepare a conversion plan which involves a detailed description of: management practices on the farm, the changes required on the farm, soil and faecal analysis, livestock housing, animal health and a land/crop rotation plan. The plan can be drawn up by the farmer alone or with the help of a farm advisor. The Organic Trust have included a template for a conversion plan in the Producer Application Form.

Ofs inspection

INSPECTION

Following review of your application form, we will organise an inspection of your holding at a time convenient to you.

Ofs certification

CERTIFICATION

Your inspector will submit an inspection report which will be reviewed by our certification panel. If everything is in order you will be issued with your first in-conversion licence.

Ofs course

APPROVED ORGANIC TRAINING COURSE

Finally, you must also complete the 25 hour Organic Production Principles Course if you have not already completed same. Providers of this course Teagasc and NOTS who are running the courses online, more information can be found here

Teagasc

NOTS

Please note that you will be required to demonstrate your completion of the mandatory organic production course.

OT Conversion Process Video

The OT have created a video that takes you through the Organic Farming Scheme paperwork requirements. You can watch the 2021 video below.

Frequently asked Questions

OFS / Grant Aid

General questions on eligibility for the Organic Farming Scheme

Type Year 1-2 (in-conversion) <<70ha €/ha Year 1-2 (in-conversion) >70ha €/ha Year 3-5 (in-conversion) <<70ha €/ha Year 3-5 (in-conversion) >70ha €/ha
Drystock 300 60 250 30
Tillage 320 60 270 30
Dairy 350 60 300 30
Horticulture 800 60 600 30

The new scheme will open in October 2022 but you will not have to commence Organic farming until 01.01.2023.

You must carry a minimum of 0.15LSU per hectare over the full year if you are a livestock producer. All Organic farmers must be stocked below the limit of 170kg of Nitrogen/year/ha.

There is a minimum 1 hectare required for Horticulture and 3 hectares for all other enterprises. Payments are reduced when 70 hectares are exceeded but this land can still be added.

The contract for OFS is 5 years.

To be eligible you must meet the minimum entry requirements listed in the T&C’s to be published in September 2022.

Yes, but as with many schemes some parameters don’t allow for double payments on land parcels. Payment will be forgone in some cases where an overlap occurs. For more information see the T&Cs in September 2022.

The Organic Capital Investment Scheme (OCIS) will be available to Organic farmers only and will be increasing to a rate of 50% in late 2022. This is a sub-branch of TAMS but for Organics only.

You can complete your application paperwork for Organic Trust and your OFS application yourself or we can provide you with a list of Organic specialist advisors. They do not need to replace your current advisor but have expertise in organics specifically.

Application is a 3-step process and is simple. You need to

  • complete an application and submit it together with the additional documentation (as per checklist of the application) to the Organic Trust.
  • the Organic Trust will notify DAFM of your application.
  • when available, we contact you to inform you that you or your advisor can apply for OFS on agfood.ie

This is an option for some farmers who do not wish to enter their whole enterprise into Organics. You must ensure that there is no risk of parallel production i.e. you cannot have an Organic cattle enterprise and a non-organic cattle enterprise. But you could have an Organic Cereal enterprise and a non-organic cattle enterprise.

You must ensure your lease meets the length of the OFS contract. A minimum of 5 years is required to apply.

No previous training is required. A course in the Principles of Organic Farming must be completed within a specified amount of time to receive payment. This is a 25 hour course. You must upload the certificate on agfood.ie once the course is completed. The deadline will be announced with the OFS T&Cs.

Yes. Commonage can be grazed but a commonage agreement must be signed. Commonage is not eligible for Organic payment.

Non-organic and in-conversion/organic livestock of the same species cannot graze in-conversion land. Non-organic and in-conversion/organic of different species can graze the land together as long as a grazing agreement for the non-organic livestock is in place and they do not graze more than 120 days/year. All stock must be managed organically in every respect while on the land.

Cattle

Frequently asked question on the Organic Farming Scheme by Cattle farmers

There are dedicated Organic marts throughout Ireland, information regarding the marts can be found on the Organic Trust website (CLICK ON LINK - Organic Trust). Organic cattle can also be bought from private Organic farmers. IMPORTANT: Any organic stock bought on an in-conversion farm in the first 3 months from the start of the conversion period lose their organic status.

Organic livestock should be sourced in the first instance. If not available, a derogation for non-organic livestock representing 10% of your adult stock must be obtained from the Organic Trust prior to purchase (non-Organic for replacement purposes). A non-organic bull can be purchased for breeding at any time.

Your current stock can be retained for breeding purpose only. Cows kept from before conversion began will never achieve Organic status but may be used for breeding.

Calves born 3 months after conversion started will achieve Organic status simultaneously with your land.

Cattle can be sold privately, in marts or to Organic processors. Cattle can still be sold conventionally if this is required. During the in-conversion period the animals cannot be sold as organic.

Yes. However, Sexed Semen is not permitted. Any non-organic male breeding animal may be purchased as required for breeding purposes.

Sheep

Frequently asked question on the Organic Farming Scheme by Sheep farmers

Lambs born and conceived after conversion started will achieve Organic status simultaneously with your land.

Your current stock can be retained for breeding purpose only. Ewes kept from before conversion began will never achieve Organic status but may be used for breeding.

There are dedicated Organic marts throughout Ireland – information regarding the marts can be found on the Organic Trust website (CLICK ON LINK - Organic Trust). Organic sheep can also be bought from private Organic farmers. IMPORTANT: Any organic stock bought in on in-conversion farm in the first 3 months from the start of the conversion period lose their organic status.

Organic livestock should be sourced in the first instance. If not available, a derogation for non-organic livestock representing 20% of your adult stock must be obtained from the Organic \Trust prior to purchase (non-Organic for replacement purposes). A non-organic ram can be purchased for breeding at any time.

Sheep can be sold privately, in marts or to Organic processors (ICM). Sheep can still be sold conventionally if this is required.

Horticulture and Tillage

Growers Frequently asked questions on the Organic Farming Scheme

There are several providers of Organic seed in Ireland. Organic seed should be sought in the first instance. If you cannot source Organic seed and it is not available on the Organic seed database (https://ie.organicxseeds.com/ ) you must obtain a derogation for non-organic seed from the Organic Trust prior to sowing. The non-organic seed must be undressed/untreated.

Animal manures may be imported as long as they don’t come from a factory farming setting. Soil tests in the last five years must show justification for the import. Composts with a PAS100 certificate may be used on an Organic holding.

Chemical fertilisers are NOT permitted for use on Organic farms. There are some alternatives available for nutrients and these are naturally derived products, i.e. Patent Kali. Soil tests in the last five years must show justification for the import. Granulated and powder Lime are both permitted if warranted by soil test results.

Some plant protection products are permitted for specific crops, i.e. Bluestone for blight in potatoes and Organic slug pellets. No pesticides or herbicides are permitted. It is best to check with the Organic Trust if a product is permitted before use.

Animal Health

Frequently asked questions on Animal Health

An Animal Health Plan is required even when only vaccines are administered. This must be updated according to the livestock characteristics and needs. It should contain any likely problems usually occurring on the holding for example, mineral deficiencies and the use of licks. Treatments must be recorded in the Record Book provided by the Organic Trust. The Animal Health Plan template is available on our website and it must be stamped and signed by a vet.

No synchronization or hormonal treatments are permitted in Organic farming. Natural conception and AI are only permitted.

Animal welfare is number one and antibiotics are permitted for use when the animal health and welfare are affected. Stricter withdrawal periods apply in organics and antibiotics must be recommended by a vet, they cannot be used as a preventative measure. Please see below how many courses of antibiotics are allowed until the respective animal loses its organic status or an in-conversion period of 15 months is applied.

  • Animals for meat consumption: 1 course of treatment of chemically synthesised allopathic veterinary medicinal products or antibiotics is allowed within a twelve-month period.
  • Animals for breeding: 2 courses of treatment within a twelve-month period.
  • For dairy mastitis control: 2 courses of treatment for dairy mastitis control are allowed within a twelve-month period

Dosing is permitted for livestock but evidence of requirement is needed, a fecal sample result or liver analysis will suffice. There are many permitted products in organics and it is best to check with the Organic Trust prior to purchase.

Dips and spot on are permitted but any product containing an organophosphate is strictly prohibited. There are many permitted products in organics and it is best to check with the Organic trust before purchase.

Mineral buckets and boluses are permitted if required and should be included on the animal health plan if you intend to use them. Please ensure there are no feed additives or Genetically Modified ingredients in the licks.

There are a number of suppliers of Organic concentrates in Ireland, they are more expensive and some farmers decide to feed Organic grain mixes. Some of our members supply these mixes in bulk. Feed bought in must be Organic.

All veterinary treatments observe double the normal withdrawal period. It is important to check with Organic processors if they have stricter requirements in relation to veterinary treatments.

Animal Housing

Questions on Animal Housing and Organic Conversion

Yes, livestock can be outwintered but not at a rate higher than 1 LSU per hectare. Sacrifice paddocks are not permitted, and poaching must be minimal. Outwintering is acceptable where conditions permit provided that breeds are suitably hardy and/or there is adequate shelter to prevent any welfare problems.

All stock must have access to at least 50% bedded area. Straw/Rushes and Woodchip/Sawdust are most commonly used and permitted in organics. Woodchip/Sawdust cannot be from treated timber and straw may be from a conventional farm. Sufficient bedding must be provided for stock while housed. Peat is not permitted as it is not a renewable source of bedding.

Slats may be used but cannot be greater than 50% of the shed. If slats are larger than the solid area, the shed must be stocked to the maximum capacity of the solid area and not the slatted area.

Cubicles are permitted. They must be bedded with a bedding material. Mats can be used but additional bedding must be applied on top.

Cubicles must be of optimum size for the animals on the holding with regard to welfare. At least 3m2 of accessible/available floor area per individual animal must be allowed for dairy cows and larger animals, with lesser areas for smaller animals; cubicles with dimensions of 2.62m2 can be permitted provided the overall solid-bedded area is compliant with the Organic Food and Farming Standards in Ireland e.g. a 600 kg animal would require an overall solid-bedded area of 3m2, therefore, where cubicles less than 3m2 are used, an additional solid-bedded area must be made available to the animals.

Animals must have free access to cubicles and must have an adequate lounging area. Cubicles must be clean and dry and bedded at all times

Livestock type: Live Weight (Kg): m2 per head*:
Cattle Up to 100 1.5
Cattle Up to 200 2.5
Cattle Up to 350 4.0
Cattle Over 350 5 with a minimum of 1m2 per 100Kg
Dairy Cows N/a 6
Breeding Bulls N/a 10
Sheep N/a 1.5
Lambs N/a 0.35
Goats N/a 1.5
Kids N/a 0.35