Barriers to Entering Forestry Sector Must be Reviewed

May 27th 2015

ICSA president Patrick Kent has said that the replanting rule and the protection of the hen harrier are serious barriers to farmers diversifying into forestry.

“The compulsion to replant land after clearfelling is discouraging many farmers, particularly those on good land, from getting involved in forestry,” he said. “If such farmers had the option of returning their land to grass after a single crop of trees, this might prompt more of them to go down that route.”
“Forestry can be a very profitable enterprise, and farmers may find that they want to continue in it long-term, but at least removing the compulsion to re-plant offers them the security of knowing they or their children can return to other types of farming if they wish to do so in the future.”

“The hen harrier is a serious issue in whole swathes of the country where land is particularly suited to growing conifers and not suitable for many other farming systems, and where the forestry option could provide farmers with a much-needed extra source of income if it were not for the stringent regulations on hen harrier protection.”

“ICSA is now calling on Minister Coveney to review these two issues immediately with a view to encouraging more farmers to get involved in forestry,” concluded Mr. Kent.

Fidelma Melia, Administration Officer

From Walsh Island, Co. Offaly, Fidelma Melia worked for ICSA in 2013 and returned to the post of administration officer in February 2015.

A graduate of Athlone IT, where she completed a certificate in business, Fidelma worked in sales, administration and customer services in the mobile phone industry for ten years. She has also worked as a Community Development Officer with Portarlington Community Development Association, where she was involved in projects on agri-diversification, business, education, community resilience and tourism.

Her family have a small farm and Fidelma is also involved with Foróige, both locally in Walsh Island and as a member of Offaly District Council.

New AEOS scheme will not fill gap left by REPS – ICSA

25th September, 2012

President of the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association Gabriel Gilmartin has welcomed the announcement of the re-opening of the Agri-environmental Options Scheme (AEOS) announced today by Minister for Agriculture, Simon Coveney TD – but says the provisions of the scheme do not go far enough to constitute real support.  

Minister Coveney has announced that his Department will be providing €20million for the AEOS scheme, which will open shortly for applications.  A maximum payment of €4,000 will apply.  

Speaking at the National Ploughing Championships in Co. Wexford, Mr. Gilmartin said, “ICSA has been persistently calling for the re-opening of AEOS, but more importantly for a more meaningful agri-environment scheme, which is a vital support for cattle and sheep farmers.  The scheme announced today simply will not fill the gap left by the closure of REPS.  In particular, the maximum payment of €4,000 is simply not enough to allow farmers to achieve the targets of the scheme.   Environmental measures are considered to be of ever-increasing importance at EU level, so I am extremely disappointed that the Department has not seen fit to put a meaningful support scheme in place to facilitate farming to a high environmental standard.”

“Furthermore, I want to stress that it will be absolutely crucial that the payments are made on time this year, especially with the dire situation many farmers find themselves in as a result of the severe weather conditions over the past few months.”

One small cut for Government – one giant leap for business

27th August, 2012

The Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association is calling on the Government to suspend the carbon tax to alleviate pressure on businesses, particularly farm business, as Irish farming attempts to deal with one of the toughest years in recent times.  

ICSA president Gabriel Gilmartin said, “Fuel prices are set to rise to shocking levels in the coming weeks, and I dread to think of the bills that the farming sector, particularly agricultural contractors, will face when they go to fill their tanks with diesel.  That being the case, the carbon tax is making significant inroads into farmers’ ability to produce at competitive prices.”  

“At the moment the carbon tax comes in at over  6 cent per litre on green diesel (or €20/tonne – up from €15/ tonne before May 1st, 2012).  That’s a very significant amount of money when you consider how many litres would be put into the tank of a combine harvester, for example.  In fact, Teagasc estimated that the carbon tax was costing farmers €24million per year at the €15/tonne rate.  It follows that the current rate of €20/tonne is costing farmers in the region of €32million a year.  The fact that there is a double offset for carbon tax against income tax for farmers is not particularly helpful – it’s administratively very difficult, and varies depending on which rate of income tax you’re on.  Moreover, the double offset only applies to the increased carbon tax which came in on May 1st this year, and is therefore of very limited benefit.”  

“With 2012 looking like being one of the toughest years faced by the entire agricultural sector in recent times, and fears already mounting about a rise in how much it will cost Irish consumers to put food on the table in the coming months, now is the time for the Government to do what it can to ease the pressure on both farmers and consumers.”  

Mr. Gilmartin concluded, “Suspending the carbon tax would be one small cut for Government – one giant leap for business competitiveness.”

What are we fighting for?

·         CAP Reform:

o   ICSA was the organisation that delivered the Single Farm Payment, worth €1.3 billion every year to Irish farmers.  Now you can rely on us to fight to retain the maximum possible decoupled SFP envelope

·         Direct Supports:

o   Fighting for agri-environment scheme options for Irish farmers

o   Continuing to fight for a reversal of unfair budget cuts on farmers, especially suckler cow welfare scheme, fallen animals collection scheme, installation aid, disadvantaged area payment and early retirement scheme

o   Less beaurocracy and red tape

·         Cattle:

o   Campaigning for partnership between meat factories and beef farmers, to achieve a long-term sustainable margin for the producers

o   Fighting to ensure beef prices do not fall below €4/kg

o   Better bonuses for high quality, suckler herd type beef, in line with what farmers get in those countries where we market our beef

o   Protection of our valuable live exports and lobbying for the opening up of new live export markets

o   Challenging all deductions from your factory cheques

·         Sheep:

o   We have achieved delivery of a reasonable aid package for sheep farmers which will require minimal paperwork

o   Advocating flexibility in the application of electronic tagging rules in Ireland without significantly increasing cost or beaurocracy for farmers

·         Young farmers:

o   Campaigning for targeted, decent payments for active, young farmers under the new CAP

o   New opportunities for the next generation of young farmers to get into and expand in dairying, even on farms where this has not been a traditional enterprise

·         Environment & Energy:

o   Exploring opportunities under alternative energies such as anaerobic digestion

o   Prioritising the development of the clean, green image of Ireland as the key to selling more beef and lamb to high-priced, international retail markets

·         Third Level Education:

o   Fighting against any move to include capital assets in the means test for higher education grants

·         Nursing Home Care:

o   Fighting against the unfair provisions of the ‘Fair Deal’ Nursing Home Scheme which discriminates against farmers and could result in the State taking 50% of the family farm in the case of a farmer who requires 10 years nursing home care under the scheme

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