IFA organic project team chair John Curran has acknowledged that the proposed increased payment rates for farmers participating in the organic farm scheme is a positive step for the sector.

“The current payment rates are not enough to encourage farmers to convert and to remain farming organically. Farmers will now be paid over €300/ha to convert to organics.

“IFA has lobbied for substantial increases to the rates under the new CAP. This announcement is a step in the right direction,” Curran said.

Strategic plan

The rates are subject to approval by the European Commission as part of the ongoing discussions on approval of Ireland’s CAP Strategic Plan and would apply from 1 January 2023.

“Organic farming incurs a lot of additional ‘hidden’ costs such as training and costs associated with certification. The proposal of a new ‘participation payment’ is also positive.

“This payment will be €2,000 in the first year of conversion and €1,400/year thereafter,” he said.

The IFA organic project team chair concluded that given the ambition to grow organic farming set out at both European level and under the Programme for Government, it is imperative that the sector continues to receive additional support in terms of advisory support and knowledge transfer.

Demand for lamb at odds with factory price cuts

IFA national sheep committee chair Kevin Comiskey said supplies of suitably finished lambs are tight on the ground and the lower kill-out rates this year have reduced the volumes of sheepmeat being processed.

He said despite persisting in lowering quotes, factories are anxious for lambs and offering various deals on transport and other charges to entice sellers, bringing prices up to the equivalent of €6.90 to €7.00/kg in some deals.

Comiskey said factories must recognise the costs of production sheep farmers are facing this year and reflect it in lamb prices.

He said the behaviour over the past few weeks and this week in particular only serves to undermine confidence in the sector.

The national sheep committee chair store lamb sales have started out well, but it is critical farmers see a commitment from factories to return strong lamb prices to underpin this trade.