Farmers and landowners can now apply for financial assistance under the forestry planting programme.

Launching the programme, Minister Tom Hayes said applications are now invited for financial approval under the Afforestation Scheme by applicants with valid technical approvals.

The application period has also been changed, and will no longer be divided between autumn of one year and spring of the following year, he said.

Instead it is intended that the current period for applications for financial approval will remain open through the remainder of 2015 and into 2016.

However, Hayes added that the end date has yet to be set and this will be determined by the Department of Agriculture with regard to funding, silvicultural and policy considerations.

According to the Minister, the new arrangements have been welcomed by forestry owners and businesses.

“The opening of the planting programme and the decision for it to run into 2016 has been welcomed by forestry companies and I hope that those intending to plant who have their technical approval will proceed to plant,” he said.

Farmers can now apply for the:
  • The forest roads scheme
  • The Woodland improvement scheme (Thinning and tending)
  • The seed stand and seed orchard scheme
  • The neighbourwood scheme 

‘Subsidies keep drystock farmers out of forestry’

More loss-making drystock enterprises should be switching to forestry, according to Professor Alan Matthews, Professor Emeritus of European Agricultural Policy at Trinity College.

Speaking at a recent conference, organised by the Institute of International and European Affairs, Matthews said subsidies are underpinning production in the beef sector.

Citing Teagasc figures, he said the only reason these farmers can continue in the sector is the direct payment.

“Subsidies are maintaining a sector which if you added in the additional costs of the greenhouse gas emissions would have net margins even more negative.”

According to Matthews, there would be a positive return if farmers switched land out of drystock and other agricultural enterprises and into forestry.