Farmers urged to seek expert advice before selling mature forestry

The chairperson of the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers’ Association Farm and Rural Affairs Committee has urged farmers with forestry planted in late 80s and early 90s to think carefully and to seek expert advice before coming to any decision on their timber crop.

Denis Drennan said with the introduction of forestry premium in the late 1980s, many farmers – both at that time and into the 1990s – opted to plant some land and the result today is that they potentially have a very valuable forest.

The committee chairperson said that ensuring farmers get a fair price for this timber is critical “given that you get a single opportunity to sell your timber in a period of 30-40 years”.

Quotes for forestry

ICMSA has said that it’s aware of farmers who had been approached to sell mature or semi-mature forests.

The association has stressed that farmers should always be aware, that while the prices they are being offered for mature forestry may look attractive, they may be significantly less than the value of a clear-fell with the proceeds of that option being tax-free and ownership of the land being retained by the farmer for possible replanting.

Drennan noted that the financial differentials could be very substantial and he said that it was absolutely necessary for farmers to consider carefully and do the detailed calculations around offers to buy their forest or timber.

“A good starting point would be to consult with your local Teagasc forestry advisor who should be in position to provide independent advice and the best options to maximise the value of your forest,” Drennan said.

Despite the current difficulties in obtaining licences, there is significant equity in forestry and selling your forest or timber will be a once-in-a-lifetime event for many farmers.

“It is absolutely essential that you get expert advice to ensure you make the correct decision in realising the value of your timber,” he concluded.