IFA Farm Forestry Chairman, Michael Fleming has welcomed the changes in the Farmers Charter and believes they will positively benefit the development of the private forest sector and farmers’ relationship with the Forest Service.
Under the new Farmers Charter, a Forest Service Inspector is obliged to text a farmer at least a day in advance of inspections. Michael Flemings said this is a very positive development and he would encourage all farmers to use the opportunity to meet their Inspector and learn more about their forest as well as their requirements.
“It is very important that farmers become more familiar with their requirements under the forestry schemes, even if they are using the services of a professional forester”, said Mr. Fleming. “The contract is between the Forest Service and the farmer, as the applicant. Meeting with the Inspector on site will give a greater understanding of how the forest is progressing as well as identify potential issues that may impact future earnings from crop at an early stage”.
He said the establishment of a new independent appeals office is a very important development and something that the IFA has been seeking for a number of years. A lot of farmers have been dissatisfied with the internal appeals system operated by the Forest Service and have raised concerns to the IFA about its objectivity.
“Now if a farmer is dissatisfied with the decision of the Forest Service Appeals Committee in relation to the payment under a scheme they have to right to appeal the decision with the Agriculture Appeals Office”, said Mr. Fleming. “IFA will be looking for the remit of the Agriculture Appeals Office to be expanded to include all appeals including Felling Licences, as this is very important to our members”.