Over 20% of organic farmers awaiting 2017 advance scheme payments

Over 20% of organic farmers partaking in the Organic Farming Scheme are still awaiting to receive their 85% advance payments for 2017.

A total of 335 farmers have yet to receive this payment, the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, has confirmed in response to a recent parliamentary question from Fianna Fail TD Charlie McConalogue.

Advance payments under the scheme for 2017 commenced shortly before the Christmas. The balancing payment is set to be issued this year, as per EU rules.

As it stands, some 1,253 organic farmers have received their advance payments for last year. Expenditure of the scheme has amounted to just over €8.3 million to date, with an overall budget allocation of €10.5 million.

Payment figures in the table below refer to the specific year in question and not the date of issue.

It outlines the annual budget and expenditure for the Organic Farming Scheme under the Rural Development Programme (RDP) 2014-2020, which includes payments to participants in the previous Organic Farming Scheme.

*Payment figures for 2017 refer to the advance payment only

Commenting on the matter, Minister Creed said: “In 2015, the underspend identified is largely attributable to the fact that the new online Organic Farming Scheme payments for the year in question related to a seven month period only.

“In addition, there was a reduced number eligible for payment under the previous Organic Farming Scheme, due to completion of contracts.

“It is important to note that the current scheme is fully subscribed and all allocated funds will be spent over the lifetime of the RDP.”

Organic production

The minister also outlined that there are currently approximately 72,000ha of land under organic production in Ireland.

Continuing, he said: “The organic farming sector has seen unprecedented growth in the last few years, driven very largely by the new Organic Farming Scheme designed and introduced under Ireland’s RDP 2014-2020.

The targets committed under the Organic Farming Scheme for the RDP 2014-2020 were to attract some 16,000ha of new land into production and to support 46,000ha of converted land.

“The Organic Farming Scheme has achieved and exceeded these targets for the RDP period. Evidence of this is that 26,000ha were converted to organic farming during this period,” Minister Creed concluded.