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Farmers demand Government publish names of those getting forestry payments


THE Government has been urged to publish a list of annual forestry premium payments by the Irish Natura and Hill Farmers Association (INHFA).

All afforestation premi­ums are paid directly by the State rather than out of CAP funding so the Agriculture Department is not subject to the EU rules regarding publication.

INHFA spokesman Gerry Loftus said: “These premi­ums are funded from the public purse and as such need to be transparent. The general public is entitled to know if Irish taxpayers are subsidising the profits of multi-nationals and absen­tee landowners.”

“It is absolutely crazy how the tiny (CAP) pay­ments many farmers receive remain open to public scrutiny while substantial tax-free payments received by multi-nationals and others through afforestation premium are kept secret.”

He said the payments should be published annu­ally, including the name, address and total amount received and the county in which the forestry is located.

A Department spokes­person pointed out that the majority of forestry payments continue to be made to farmers. Under EU rules, forestry premium pay­ments must be made public if someone benefits by more than €500,000.

The INHFA are also proposing that the payment of any future premium and establishment grant for forestry would require that the recipient’s main residential residence is within 50km of the forestry site.

For companies this rule would also apply for their main head quarters.

By implementing a rule such as the INHFA stated how “it would not impact on local farmers who wanted to plant some of their land, but it would eliminate companies and others coming to counties such as Leitrim and using that land potential as a carbon right-off at no cost to them but enormous cost to the local community.”

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