IFA Farm Forestry Chair Jason Fleming said that Minister Pippa Hackett must provide a timeframe for the completion of the review of the Ash Dieback scheme.
“I welcome the Minister Hackett’s recent commitment to review the Reconstitution and Underplanting Scheme for Ash Dieback in the new year, but affected farmers have been waiting long enough and need to know when the review will be completed,” said Mr. Fleming.
He said that many of the farmers affected had hoped that details would be included in the Forestry Programme 2023 to 2027.
“Let’s be clear. Ash dieback has had a devastating impact on ash plantations, and therefore has had a significant effect on the commercial value of the timber crop. The current scheme is wholly inadequate, and does not compensate farmers for the financial loss incurred by the disease,” he said.
He said that any new version of the scheme must consider the loss to timber revenue to farmers affected and must be available to all farmers that availed of grant support under the scheme.
“We need this review to be completed as a matter of urgency. We cannot find ourselves in a situation that we are still talking about bringing in changes to the scheme well into next year. As a sector we need to move forward and start to rebuild farmer confidence in the forestry if we are to meet the afforestation targets.”
IFA wants all infected plantations to be eligible for a 100% reconstitution grant to support forest owners to clearfell and replant with tree species that satisfy their management objectives and that forest premiums are paid on replanted land for 20 years, according to forest type established. The option not to replant, without penalties, must also be available under certain circumstances.