Forestry payments must rise by €200/ha/year to attract farmers – UW GROUP

Forestry payments must rise by €200/ha/year to attract farmers

Payments under the Department of Agriculture’s next forestry scheme “must increase by €200/ha/year” to entice farmers back into planting, Forest Industries Ireland (FII) has warned.

FII Director Mark McAuley says farmer planting applications “have reduced to a trickle” with “just a dozen” now submitted on a monthly basis as the sector has “almost completely ground to a halt”.

It follows mixed reactions to the Department’s latest report into the regulatory framework that underpins forestry in Ireland. Speaking after a meeting with Forestry Minister Pippa Hackett, Mr McAuley said greater incentives will be vital to the 2023 forestry programme expected to be announced at the National Ploughing Championships.

“For most farmers, forestry is an overwhelmingly economic decision — money talks, so that was my main conversation with the minister,” said Mr McAuley.

“Currently, you get anywhere from between €500-€650/ha/year for 15 years, so if you plant 10ha, you’d be getting between €5,000-€6,500 per annum. We’d like to see that increase to between €7,000-€8,500 per annum for 15 years — on 10ha, that would add up to a €30,000 increase in your payments over the 15 years, which is a substantial increase.

“It’s not only money, you have to fix the regulatory system to make sure the whole thing works, then inject more incentives — a combination of those two things will go a long way to turning around the planting numbers.”


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