€15.4 million further payment of forest premiums announced

A total of 4,248 forest owners have received their annual forest premium payments – amounting to a sum of €15.4 million – into their bank accounts this week.

The Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Andrew Doyle, made the announcement yesterday, Sunday, April 28.

These payments are to forest owners who applied for payment using the paper-based application system.

Over 6,000 forest owners, who had applied for their premiums online, have already received their payments since January 2019.

Commenting on the payments, Minister Doyle said: “My department is paying out almost €70 million in forest premiums to Irish landowners this year, with over 88% going directly to farmers, and with an average payment of €3,500 per farmer.

These are welcome additions to farm incomes, helping to diversify those incomes, and I would encourage all farmers to consider forestry if they wish to avail of this.

“This is a guaranteed premium for 15 years with all establishment costs covered…[it] complements the existing livestock enterprise on any farm.”

The minister also advised current forest owners that they may still apply online for their forestry premiums through the ‘IFORIS’ internet portal on the department’s website.

In line with the department’s policy to move schemes and services online, it is considering moving to a fully on-line system for next year.

The minister added: “More and more landowners are moving to apply for their premiums online each year.

“This is because they see benefits, principally that they receive their payment much earlier in the year.

“We will be making further announcements on plans for next year in the coming months after reviewing the current system.”

Drought support

The minister also announced the introduction of a reconstitution scheme for forest-owners whose plantations were affected by the severe drought of 2018.

The minister commented: “I am very aware of the financial hardship experienced by landowners whose trees failed due to the extreme drought of summer 2018.

“In addition to the measures which I previously announced for these landowners, I am now announcing this reconstitution scheme which offers a tiered payment system for private forest owners who replace those dead trees.”