Macra under fire on forestry 'bubble' claim
Macra na Feirme claims that the current national forestry policy is creating a "bubble" that will damage young farmers' prospects have been dismissed by the main farming organisations and forestry interests.
Last week, the rural youth organisation launched its afforestation policy and challenged the current forestry strategy which it claims is being "bullishly" implemented by the Government.
Although Macra does not oppose forestry, national president, Seán Finan, said levels of grant aid and premiums available are in "direct competition" with the interests of young farmers nationwide.
He called for the current forestry programme to be re-examined. "We don't oppose the afforestation policy, we believe it has a very important part to play in climate change mitigation but, at the same time, we don't want a situation where private investors are coming in buying large tracts of land to avail of lucrative forestry grants."
"Macra na Feirme recommends a strategic land use programme be introduced to create a more sustainable afforestation programme that will complement, and not compete with, the other livestock and arable sectors along with a review of the current level of premiums on offer."
However, farm organisations, political leaders, forestry companies and academic experts have rejected this view.
Andrew Doyle, Minister of State for Food, Forestry and Horticulture, who met with Macra leaders on the issue last week, said their policy is "flawed".
"There is a seeming unawares of the very competitive incentives available for young farmers that more than compete with the forestry programme."