Organic Scheme payments for 2016 have only just been completed and a number of organic farmers are still awaiting on an 85% advance payment for 2017.

A delegation of organic farmers met with the Department of Agriculture on Monday 18 December at Johnstown Castle in Co Wexford, and emphasised the need for timely payments and more flexibility to be introduced to the scheme.

The IFA Rural Development Chairman Joe Brady, has said that it is vitally important that all Organic Scheme Payments are made to farmers and pointed out that delays result in serious cash-flow issues for farmers.

There are 1,642 farmers in the Organic Scheme and it is worth €220/ha for the first two years of the scheme and €170/ha on the subsequent three years.

During the delegation the IFA also sought to have the scheme reopened to new entrants.

The scheme was worth up to €10.5m in 2017, but the Department has currently ruled out reopening of the scheme as the current funding requirements have been met.

IT issues

John Fitzpatrick, an organic suckler farmer from Co Laois, who took part in the delegation said that the Department seemed to be sticking to their ‘promise’ of providing an 85% advance 2017 payment to organic farmers.

But said that the Department had explained that IT issues in relation to GLAS had held up Organic Scheme payments.

Ireland currently lags far behind the EU average of 9,853 organic producers per country. Austria, one of the most organic countries in Europe, farms 554,000ha of organic land compared to just 73,000ha in Ireland.

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