Some €27 million in forestry premium payments will be issued by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine this week.
Making the announcement, Tom Hayes, Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture said the scheme provides planting and establishment grants as well as annual premiums for new afforestation projects that are compliant with national and EU legislation, operational and environmental guidelines.
There is usually a main forestry premium payment run each year at which time most forest owners, to whom a premium payment is due, are paid. In recent years, the development of the Department’s forestry online services has meant that there is an increasing amount paid earlier than the traditional forest premium payment run which is generally in April of each year. Departmental expenditure on forestry premiums in 2013 totalled €76 million, with €22.7 million paid through the online services before the bulk payment run in April.
Minister Hayes added that, following his announcement last November about the availability of the forestry online services to facilitate online applications for 2014 forestry premiums, forestry premiums amounting to €34.9 million in respect of 8,710 contracts have already been paid out earlier in the year in respect of 2014 premiums.
“Payments in respect of a further 8,692 contracts totalling €27.1 million will be issued by my Department in the coming days. Premium applications will continue to be processed by my Department as the total paid out in premiums each year amount to some €75 million which is a reflection of the interest and take-up of the Afforestation Grant and Premium Scheme with farmers representing the bulk of the forest owners.”
The Minister of State added that forestry is an attractive land use option and added that he was encouraged by the level of interest shown in the planting of forestry by landowners as evidenced by the level of attendance at forestry clinics held by Teagasc earlier in the year, which necessitated the arrangement of additional clinics.