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ICSA says switching up to 5% of land to forestry would be better for farmers

Jan 19, 2016 | ICSA in the Media | 0 comments

By Aine Hennessy
The Irish Government has secured a Forestry Programme to 2020, which plans to expand forest cover by a further 43,000ha.
  • The Irish Government has secured a Forestry Programme to 2020, which plans to expand forest cover by a further 43,000ha.
 The Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA) believes that switching up to 5% of land to forestry and other non-livestock enterprises would benefit farmers in the long run.

The ICSA has “cautiously welcomed” the Land Availability for Afforestation report launched by Minister Tom Hayes on Thursday, after calling for supports to be made more attractive and to be applied over a longer term to reflect the real cost of putting land into forestry.

Commenting on the grant aid and premium payments promised to all landowners who afforest a part of their land holding over a 15-year period, ICSA rural development chair Billy Gray said in a statement: “If this plan is supported properly, forestry can become a viable alternative which would not only benefit those farmers whose land is more suited to forestry, it would also benefit those who remain in livestock farming.”

Gray said that a change of land use and reduction in livestock numbers because farmers are attracted to alternatives is good for the remaining livestock farmers, and wee need to accept that.

“We cannot continue to produce as much beef as we do at a loss,” he said. “ICSA believes that up to 5% of land being switched to forestry and other non-livestock enterprises would be better for all farmers in the long run.”

The report

The Irish Government has secured a Forestry Programme to 2020, which plans to expand forest cover by a further 43,000ha.

In the report, the Council for Forest Research and Development (COFORD) recommends measures to encourage forest planting, including on land where traditional farming is less profitable. It outlines the physical land resource that is potentially available for afforestation and makes a series of recommendations on how to increase the level of planting.

According to the COFORD, 1.8m ha of land classified as being limited for agriculture show a “wider scope for afforestation”. The report states that these lands have a higher proportion of difficult soils, often economically marginal for agriculture, with forestry presenting a viable alternative land use option.

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