The Minister of State in the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Senator Pippa Hackett, on 9 June announced the commencement of the 2021 balancing payments for the Organic Farming Scheme (OFS).
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The Minister said: “I am delighted to announce the commencement of the 2021 balancing payments to organic farmers. Over 1,000 farmers have received payments totalling over €784,000. Payments will continue to issue over the coming weeks.”
The Minister further added: “The Organic Farming Scheme is our primary support measure to assist farmers in their conversion to organic farming as we seek to respond to the increasing consumer demand for organically produced food. We have seen an extra 17000 ha converting to organic this year.”
The Minister concluded: “There are more than 100,000 Irish farmers with stocking rates less than 170 kgs N/ha farming 4 mn ha. I would strongly encourage these farmers to consider joining the organic farming scheme this Autumn.
"Consumer demand is growing, payment rates have been increased and organic farmers will receive priority access to the new agri environmental scheme, so there has never been a better time to consider making the switch. I would urge any farmer considering converting to organics to attend an organic farm walk this summer Farm Walks - Teagasc | Agriculture and Food Development Authority and talk to their advisor about what converting to organics will entail.”
This round of payments is the balancing payment amounting to 15% of the full annual payment due under the OFS; the 85% advance payment issued in November 2021 to the OFS participants in accordance with EU rules.
At present, there are 1,734 organic farmers participating in the Organic Farming Scheme and annual payments under the Scheme amount to approximately €11million. A further 380 farmers applied to participate this Spring.
Approx. 94,000 hectares currently under organic production. A further 17000 ha is being converted this year. ■