Minister Hackett announces €150,000 funding in upskilling Agricultural Advisors in Organic Farming
The Minister for Land Use and Biodiversity, Senator Pippa Hackett, today announced an investment of €150,000 by her department in continuing to upskill Agricultural Consultants Association (ACA) advisors in organic farming. This programme builds on funding provided in 2022 which enabled over 100 ACA advisors to attend training, receive the support of an organic specialist, and host successful farm walks; and ultimately proved to be very effective in assisting record numbers of farmers making the switch to organic farming. The increased level of support provided in 2023 will ensure a second specialist advisor is appointed by the ACA, as well as ensuring nationwide advisory support is in place for those farmers who are interested in joining the organic farming scheme. This builds on the funding provided last year.
Speaking ahead of the ACA AGM in Portlaoise, Minister Hackett said: “Farmers can see for themselves the opportunities that are there for them in organic farming. The organic strategy forum and all stakeholders recognise that advisory support is key to ensuring farmers have the confidence to make the switch and become organic farmers. Research has shown that farmers trust agricultural advisors, and this training will ensure farmers now have access to organic farming support. Already, 2023 has been a pivotal one for organic farming as we have accepted record numbers of farmers into the organic farming scheme, and the ACA have been instrumental in bringing organic farming to the forefront as a real opportunity for Irish farmers."
The Minister added: “The National Organic Strategy sets out the need to upskill our advisors in organic farming. This training will help us to meet our ambitious Programme for Government and Climate Action Plan targets of substantially increasing the area of land farmed organically in Ireland to 10% by 2030. The €256 million budget which I secured for the organic farming scheme was a five-fold increase on the previous scheme and is resulting in hugely increased levels of interest from farmers. With this level of funding available I would encourage all farmers to think carefully about the resilience of their farming system and consider becoming an organic farmer."
The investment will provide for two specialist organic advisers within the ACA, on-farm and classroom training for advisors, and organic farm walks with an unprecedented level of expertise and advice available at local level for interested farmers.
Minister Hackett continued: “I am really excited about our continued collaboration with the ACA in this training. I believe it is an important building block that will strengthen a new and positive era for Irish organic agriculture. The ACA will co-ordinate the roll out of this training. They have agricultural advisors all over the country and a wealth of experience in providing agricultural advisory services to farmers. I look forward to seeing the continuing positive change this training will bring to Irish agriculture.”
President of ACA, Noel Feeney said:“ACA and its members are delighted to continue this important training, which will be invaluable for the future of the agricultural sector. ACA are confident that there are growing opportunities for organic farming in Ireland, and this training will greatly assist towards our commitments at National and EU level under Farm 2 Fork, climate change and related policies. I wish to sincerely thank Minister Hackett and the ACA looks forward to continuing to work closely with her department and all other stakeholders to ensure the success of organic farming.”