Some 535 farmers have applied to the Organic Farming Scheme (OFS) since it opened on 20 October, Minister of State Pippa Hackett has confirmed.

A further 138 applications remain in draft form, with new farmers starting applications daily.

Minister Hackett said: “We have not seen a level of applications this high so early ever before, so I would continue to encourage farmers considering organics to speak to your adviser as soon as you can and get your application in.”