Assuming that forestry is deemed to be eligible, under the definition of active farming that is agreed for the next CAP reform package, then there is every likelihood that owners of woodland could do tremendously well under the new Pillar 1 support arrangements that kick in 2015. And this will be particularly the case for those farmers who have planted trees in upland areas. Certainly, the latest thinking in Northern Ireland would indicate that payments to private forestry owners, who currently receive a basic payment of €78 per hectare ,could rise to €379 per hectare, once a flat rate area-based support system is arrived at.

Meanwhile in the Republic of Ireland  Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Tom Hayes TD, has welcomed the formal confirmation from the European Commission of the prolongation of the State aid approval for the Forestry Programme which has facilitated the re-opening of the Afforestation and other support schemes.

Commenting, Minister Hayes stated:

“This formal notification of the prolongation of the State Aid allows my Department to continue to financially support applications for afforestation and the range of supports schemes, including roads, pending the development of new Schemes under the new Forestry Programme 2014-2020.  The terms and conditions of the current Schemes including 20 year premiums and current rates of grant and premium payments will continue to apply to applications financially approved up to and including 30 June 2014”.

He added:

“The registered foresters and forestry companies who act on behalf of applicants have been informed of the re-opening of the schemes and we’re now open for business”.

Minister Hayes also stated that he was pleased  to confirm for prospective forestry applicants, that the current arrangement whereby  payment of the forest premium and the Single Farm Payment on the same land will continue under the new Forestry Programme 2014-2020.  The same rules will apply as before, the main one being that the land being planted must have been eligible to draw down Single Farm Payment in 2008.

“I am aware that some people have been holding off on making decisions to plant forestry because of concerns about their future Single farm Payment  entitlements. I am happy to provide them with the necessary assurance to enable them to opt for forestry and the attractive incentives that are available to plant.”