‘Farmers should take time to read new forestry report’ – IFA

A report into the impact of forestry in Co. Leitrim – released on Monday, September 2, by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine – “contains some useful information” for farmers, according to the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA).

Vincent Nally, the association’s farm forestry chairperson, called on farmers to “take time to digest” the report, which was led by Dr. Aine Ní Dhubháin of UCD.

“It’s important that we better understand the impact of forestry on the county and its people, so that we can formulate policies that support farm forestry and ensure greater consultation with local communities,” Nally commented.

The report estimated that, in 2017, the value of the forestry and the wood processing sector in Co. Leitrim stood at €26.5 million, while 309 jobs were supported by the sector in the county.

Nally highlighted one particular statistic which showed that 5% of forests were inherited, which he said shows “the possibilities of intergenerational exchange and retention of the homestead by family members who might not be in a position to farm the land conventionally”.

However, the IFA’s farm forestry chairperson stressed that the figures presented in the study only refer to the year 2017, and do not take into account “the scale of investor planting that had taken place in recent years since the removal of the farmer premium differential under the current programme”.

The removal of the farmer differential and the increase in forest premium payments to non-farmers is behind a lot of the negative attitudes to forestry.

“From my initial reading of the report, it does not analyse the longer-term downstream impact on local communities of this scale of investor planting,” said Nally.

Concluding, he called for farmers to be paid for the carbon sequestered in forests.