Advance payments for Wicklow farmers under the organic farming program have started, it has been confirmed.
he Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Navy, Senator Pippa Hackett, has confirmed the distribution of € 4 million to 1,000 organic farmers as part of their participation in the program. Payments will continue to be made on a weekly basis to the remaining farmers participating in the scheme. Nationally, there are over 1,700 farmers in the scheme.
Minister Hackett said: “I am pleased to announce the start of advance payments of over € 4 million to approximately 1,000 organic farmers under the organic farming program. This money is arriving today in their bank accounts in recognition of their commitment to organic farming. One of our clear commitments to farmers is to make scheme payments when they are due and I am delighted to say that these payments are being made on time again this year. This continues my ministry’s performance this year to start all plan payments on time.
The Minister added, “Farmers participating in the organic program earn these payments because they provide increased environmental and animal welfare benefits while meeting market demand for organically produced food. I want more farmers to consider joining them and I reopen the program in January 2022 for new applications. Farmers can claim annual payments of up to € 220 per hectare during the conversion period and up to € 170 per hectare when they have achieved full organic status. Higher payment rates are available for horticulturalists and organic farmers.
The Agriculture Department also confirmed that it has issued offers to extend contracts until 2022 to all farmers whose existing contracts are due to expire at the end of 2021. Minister Hackett urged any farmer who does not had not yet responded to these contract extension offers. to contact the Department as soon as possible.
The advance payment represents approximately 85% of the total annual payment offered under the program, with the balance to be paid in May 2022. Approximately 90,000 ha of land nationwide is currently under organic production.
Farmers interested in joining the program are encouraged to contact their agricultural advisor to learn more about the program or to begin the application process.