Funding available for organic conversion and maintenance in NI

DAERA is providing financial support to farmers and land managers carrying out environmentally beneficial farming practices on agricultural land
DAERA is providing financial support to farmers and land managers carrying out environmentally beneficial farming practices on agricultural land

Financial support is now available for Northern Irish farmers and landowners converting to and managing organic land.

The funding window is open until the 11 September 2020 for agreements starting on 1 January 2021 as part of the Environmental Farming Scheme.

The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) is providing the financial support.

It is aimed at farmers converting to and managing organic land, farming in a way that works with nature and delivering public goods – such as protecting soil, water, air and ecosystems.



It comes as figures show a rise in demand for organic food, driven by Covid-19, with the market set to surpass the £2.5bn sales mark by the end of the year.

Organic sales increased 18.7% in the 12 weeks ending 30 May, compared to a 14.2% increase in non-organic food and drink.



Beef and eggs have seen significant demand and have been growing at +15.3% and +14.8% respectively in the same time period.

Clare McDermott, Business Development Director at Soil Association Certification, said it was a 'critical time' for farmers to go organic due to the pandemic and climate change.

"We expect good long term opportunities for farmers who want to meet that rising demand post-Brexit," she said.

"Covid-19 has shaken complacency about where our food comes from to the core, and accelerated changing shopper behaviours towards personal health, transparency and integrity.

"With more people than ever understanding this connection and making planet-centric choices, I think the whole organic sector has a lot to feel confident about.”