IFA Farm Forestry Chairman Vincent Nally said he is incensed by Minister McConalogue’s comments in relation to ‘savings’ from the forestry budget.
“There are no savings in the forestry budget. The underspend is a direct result of this Government’s failure to meet planting targets because of the forest licensing crisis and the lack of supports for farmers whose ash plantations have been devastated by Ash Dieback. Any underspend must be redirected to support forest owner affected.”
Only 1,895 hectares have been established so far in 2021. This represents a 22% decline on the area planted in 2020, and a 46% decline compared with 2019.
He said there are thousands of farmers whose income has been devastated by Ash Dieback, who are being coerced by this Government to continue to invest in a dying crop through the Reconstitution and Underplanting Scheme.
“This is unacceptable, and any underspend in the forestry must be redirected to fund a proper reconstitution scheme,” he said.
He said the €7m underspend would support the replanting of approx. 1,100 hectares of diseased ash plantations and support a premium payment of €605 per hectare on the re-established crop next year.
“I can assure this Government that until they start to listen to farmers and appropriately compensate those affected by Ash Dieback the afforestation, the targets set out in the Climate Action Plan to plant more than 8,000 hectares will not be achieved,” he said.