Payments under Organic Farm Scheme must be addressed – IFA

IFA Organic Project Team chair John Fitzpatrick has said that payments under the Organic Farm Scheme (OFS) must be addressed.

“The delay in the ACRES scheme has had a knock-on effect as payment must be issued there before the OFS payment can be made. This process is flawed and farmers are suffering as a result,” he said.

“A significant number of farmers have yet to receive any payment this year. This is not instilling any confidence in farmers who want to move towards organic farming.

“The minister expects approximately 1,000 new entrants into the scheme again this year. This cannot happen unless the delay in payments is acted upon swiftly.

“Converting to organic farming requires significant investment and the two-year conversion period is a volatile time for farmers. The absence of a payment for these farmers will be catastrophic and it will cause farm families to question the viability of the scheme.

“We hear of the huge ambition within Government to increase organic acreage, which is all well and good. However, it is no comfort to the farm families waiting on their payments.

“The Department must act swiftly to issue all outstanding payments to farmers. An interim payment like what was issued under the ACRES scheme must be considered for farmers awaiting payment,” he concluded.