Minister of State for Agriculture Senator Pippa Hackett has announced that €4m in advanced payments will be issued to 1,000 farmers under the Organic Farming Scheme (OFS).

The payments will be worth 85% of farmers' total payments and the 15% balancing payment is expected to be made in May 2022.

“This money is arriving in their bank accounts today in recognition of their commitment to organic farming.

"One of our clear commitments to farmers is to issue scheme payments when they are due and 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," the senator said.

Senator Hackett also 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.

New applicants

Senator Hackett is reopening the scheme in January 2022 for new applications to join the 1,765 organic farmers currently participating in the scheme.

"Farmers can qualify for annual payments of up to €220 per hectare during the conversion period and up to €170 per hectare when they have achieved full organic status.

"Higher payment rates are available for organic horticulture and tillage farmers,” she said.

Senator Hackett advised anyone interested in joining to contact their agricultural adviser or organic control body at this stage to begin the process.

"Teagasc have also held a series of organic webinars recently including one which focuses on the conversion process to organic farming," she said.

These are available to view on the Teagasc website.

Contract extension

The Department has offered an OFS 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," she concluded.