‘We must get forestry moving again’ – allocation of over €100 million goes to sector

Minister of state with responsibility for land use and biodiversity Pippa Hackett said “we must get forestry moving again” with a €100 million allocation made to the sector as part of Budget 2021.

The minister announced today (Wednesday, October 14), that the budget includes measures that will “stimulate nature-friendly farming practices and encourage and incentivise farmers to do what they can to enhance their land, while also producing high-quality food”. Hackett today announced specific measures

“Farmers know only too well that the future of food production, and the future of us all, depends on having a healthy environment in which to operate,” she said.

Climate change and biodiversity loss have had a direct impact on farms and their viability.

Addressing some specific measures, she said that it is “really important that our recovery from Covid-19 is a green recovery”, welcoming that the ring-fenced €23 million from the carbon tax, along with additional funding from the EU, will be allocated to a “range of new pilot environmental measures”.

Support for forestry of over €100 million for 2021 was allocated, with Minister Hackett saying that the sector must get “moving again”.

“But, we must also ensure it works for all. I really want 2021 to be a year when we all ‘Think Tree’,” she continued.

“There’s an additional 50% going to horticulture; it has huge potential and this increase from €6 million to €9 million will support current producers to develop further, and also attract new operators into the sector.

The 33% increase in the budget for the Organic Farming Scheme, to nearly €16 million, is also very welcome and addresses the growing demand from both farmers and consumers for this type of production.

“Those already in the scheme can continue, while I expect the funding to support between 400 and 500 more farmers to go organic.”

Re-opening of Organic Farming Scheme must not be ‘flawed’

Meanwhile, the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) has warned that “previous mistakes” with the Organic Farming Scheme must not be repeated.

IFA Organic Project Team chairman Nigel Renaghan said: “The scheme last re-opened in November 2018 for a four-week period.

“There was a 75% rejection rate of applicants because of a flawed points-based system in which smaller land-based applicants were discriminated against.

The majority of applicants were rejected despite having made significant investments to convert to organic farming.

“It was a flawed system that led farmers up the garden path. The re-opening of the scheme must be well thought out and we cannot have a situation where farmers are rejected in such a manner again,” he said.