IFA President Tim Cullinan said farmers with forestry have dismissed as spin the comments made by Ministers following IFA’s protest on the forest licence crisis this week.
“It’s utterly disingenuous of both Minister McConalogue and Hackett to say they had some good news for farmers,” he said.
“They told us nothing new. We protested because of the deep frustration over Government inaction. We need emergency legislation to give farmers licences for forest roads and thinning operations”.
IFA Farm Forestry Chairman Vincent Nally said there are over 6,000 licences in the backlog, with farmers waiting in excess of two years to get a licence to thin or manage their forests.
“There is no good news in this. We need targets and we need a guarantee from both Ministers that the backlog will be cleared by the end of the year,” he said.
“Until we get this guarantee, farmers will maintain the campaign and we will escalate our action,” he said.
He said that the comments from the Ministers highlight the disconnect between the Government and forest owners.
“Our forests are being devalued while we wait for the Government to commission review after review. We have had enough. The spin being put out to deflect from the crisis in the sector will not wash with farmers,” he said.
He said comparing licence output to 2020, one of the worst years since farmers started planting, does not inspire much confidence for the future of forestry in Ireland.
The Department’s dashboard shows that only 12 licences were issued to private forest owners up to last week (5 afforestation, 6 forest roads and 1 felling licences). If this rate of approval continues for a month would only see 50 licences issue to private owners.