The Organic Farming Scheme (OFS) was re-opened in November 2018 on a targeted basis on foot of the recommendation of the Organic Sector Strategy Group. The Organic Sector Strategy Group included representatives from a broad range of stakeholders, among them the Farming Representative Organisations, processors and Organic Control Bodies. Following assessment by the Group and based on market demand and supply deficits in organic horticulture, cereals and dairy, the Group recommended the re-opening of the OFS targeting expenditure towards the areas in deficit. Selection criteria with revised marking which would facilitate such a targeted reopening were agreed by the Group.
Under the Organic Farming Scheme ranking and selection criteria, marks were awarded under the following criteria:
- Existing OFS participants and licensed organic operators whose contracts expired in 2013/2014/2015 (Maximum 5 marks);
- Sectoral Balance Enterprise (based on Animal Health Computer System/Basic Payment System database or as per application form - Maximum 50 marks);
- Total Conversion vs Partial Conversion as per Basic Payment System application (Maximum 10 marks);
- Large operators i.e. 1 mark for owned land and 0.5 marks for leased land ( Maximum 50 marks);
- Mixed Farms ( Maximum 10 marks).
225 applications were received by the closing date. A total of 58 applications were either withdrawn or were deemed ineligible. Following the ranking and selection process, one applicant withdrew, 55 were successful and 111 applicants received letters informing them that they had been unsuccessful.
The Deputy should be aware that the predominant farming enterprises in 95% of the unsuccessful applications were not from the targeted sectors.