Creed resists calls for higher forestry payments to full-time farmers

Ciaran Moran

Ciaran Moran

The Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed has rejected call's for full-time farmers to receive higher forestry payments.

Former Minister for Agriculture and Fianna Fail TD Brendan Smith asked the Minister whether he has plans to change the rate of premium payments for afforestation to ensure that full-time farmers receive a higher rate of payment than persons who are not dependent on farming for an income

Minister Creed said that there is no distinction between the rate paid to farmers, whether full or part-time, and non-farmers under the Programme as the aim is to make the afforestation scheme accessible to all landowners.

"It should be noted that the category of non-farmer includes those with an association with farming such as retired farmers, sons and daughters of farmers or other relatives who have inherited land and wish to retain their connection with the land.

"For this reason, I am satisfied that the bulk of forestry payments are paid to and remain in rural Ireland," he said.

According to statisitics provided by the Minister recently, farmers have established 66pc of forestry planted to date under the Forestry Programme 2014 - 2020. In 2018, non-farmers accounted for 45pc of the forestry premiums paid by the Department.

IFA Farm Forestry Chairman, Vincent Nally has said that forestry is a permanent land use change, so it is very important that there is full understanding of what the shift from traditional agriculture to growing trees means for rural communities. 

“The changes that were introduced in the current programme that removed the farmer premium differential and increased the payment to non-farmers, had significantly increased the level of planting by non-farmers, as well as the negative feeling towards forestry”, said Mr. Nally.

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