Minister of State Pippa Hackett has announced the start of the 2021 advance payments for the Organic Farming Scheme (OFS). 

Over €4 million is issuing to 1,000 organic farmers in the scheme as part of their participation in the scheme. Payments will continue to issue each week to the remaining farmers.

The minister said this money is arriving in their bank accounts today (Friday, November 26) “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,” the senator said.

“This continues my department’s performance this year of commencing all scheme payments on time.

“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. 

“I want more farmers to consider joining them and am reopening the scheme in January 2022 for new applications.”

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

Higher payment rates are available for organic horticulture and tillage farmers under the scheme.

The Department of Agriculture 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,” the minister added.

These advance payments amount to 85% of the full annual payment offered under the scheme. The subsequent 15% balancing payment is expected to be made in May 2022.

At present, there are 1,765 organic farmers participating in the Organic Farming Scheme and annual payments under the scheme amount to approximately €10.5 million.

Approximately 90,000ha are currently under organic production in Ireland.