The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine has commenced issuing over €4m in payments to approximately 1,000 organic farmers.
Minister of State, Senator Pippa Hackett, announced the start of 2021 advance payments for Organic Farming Scheme (OFS) participants on Friday, November 26th, 2021.
These advance payments amount to 85% of the full annual payment the DAFM offers under the OFS. It expects to make the subsequent 15% balancing payment in May 2022.
At present, 1,765 organic farmers are participating in the Organic Farming Scheme. Annual payments under the scheme amount to approximately €10.5million.
According to the DAFM, approximately 90,000 hectares are currently under organic production.
Organic farmers payments
In a statement, the minister said:
“One of our clear commitments to farmers is to issue scheme payments when they are due.”
“I am delighted to say that these payments are issuing on schedule again this year. This continues my department’s performance this year of commencing all scheme payments on time.”
She said farmers in the organic scheme earn these payments because they are “delivering enhanced environmental and animal welfare benefits while responding to the market demand for organically produced food”.
Payment rates and call for applications
Hackett wants more farmers to consider joining them, and she will reopen the scheme in January 2022 for new applications.
Farmers can qualify for annual payments of up to €220 per hectare during the conversion period.
They can claim up to €170 per hectare when they have achieved full organic status.
“Higher payment rates are available for organic horticulture and tillage farmers,” she added.
Anyone interested in joining should contact their agricultural advisor or organic control body at this stage to begin the process.
Teagasc has also held a series of organic webinars recently. One focuses on the conversion process to organic farming.
Concluding, she said:
“My department has offered an Organic Farming Scheme contract extension up to the end of 2022 to any participant whose contract was due to expire at the end of this year.”
“I would strongly encourage anybody who has not yet responded to this extension offer to contact the department as soon as possible.”
“In the meantime, we will continue to issue payments each week.”