Coillte farm partnership payment issues to go under the microscope

Payment issues around Coillte farm partnerships are set to go under the microscope at a meeting of the Joint Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine this afternoon.

Getting underway at approximately 3:30pm, the meeting will see representatives from Coillte and the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) give presentations.

Commenting prior to the gathering, committee chair and Fine Gael TD Pat Deering said: “Coillte has previously written to the committee to highlight payment and management difficulties surrounding plantations on their land.

While we welcome Coillte’s assertion that they are addressing this long-standing issue, the committee is gravely concerned about issues around insufficient communication and – in some cases – the fact that farmers have not been paid by Coillte for years of harvesting timber.

“Dysfunctional farm partnerships are a huge issue for some farmers and more must be done to ensure that Coillte addresses the issue of payment as a matter of urgency,” Deputy Deering said.

In recent months, a number of people involved in farm-forest partnerships with Coillte came forward to accuse the organisation of withholding payments and of a lack of communication.

Since then Coillte outlined that a “thorough” review would be conducted into issues with some of its farm forestry partnerships.

But, earlier this month, Coillte claimed that there were no cases where farmers had not been paid what they were due.

Also Read: ‘We have not withheld any payments to farmers’ – Coillte

In a statement, Coillte reiterated its assertion that the vast majority of the 630 partnerships it entered into with farmers between 1993 and 2012 were working “well and as intended”.