'I have no regrets about planting forestry' - 70-cow dairy farmer
Donal McCarthy is a progressive dairy farmer based in scenic Ballydehob in West Cork. His overall holding is almost 103 hectares.
Donal's dairy enterprise is concentrated on a fertile platform of 27ha surrounding the farmyard, sustaining a herd of 70 dairy cows.
The remaining land is located in out-farms. Donal was one of the earliest farmers to join REPS over 23 years ago. He is also currently in GLAS.
In 2009, Donal considered what to do with 11ha of marginal land located 13km from the main farm. Knowledge is the key to informed decision making for Donal.
He considered the location of this land, the cost of reclaiming land with heavy soils and the subsequent returns from farming.
Donal researched various options. The benefits of forestry became evident. The land is close to existing productive forestry. Afforestation grants would cover planting costs.
An annual tax-free premium of €427 per hectare would be available over 20 years. In addition to this, his land, if forested, would meet the required criteria and be eligible to draw down the Single Farm Payment and subsequently the Basic Payment.
The tax-free nature of forest premia coupled with the future timber sales were seen by Donal as strong advantages.