IFA National Farm Forestry Chair Jason Fleming said that Ireland’s Forestry Programme 2023 to 2027 has finally been formally submitted to the European Commission for State Aid approval.
“The delay getting approval for the programme has taken its toll on the sector, as farmers that do not hold technical approval cannot apply to plant,” the IFA National Farm Forestry Chair said.
“Farmers that want to plant and avail of the new grants and premiums cannot make an application at present and will continue to be excluded from planting until State Aid approval has been granted. The programme needs to be opened as a matter of urgency,” Jason Fleming said.
“The negotiations that have taken place between the Department and the Commission over the last number of months before the application was formally submitted will hopefully mean that approval of the programme will progress speedily,” he said.
The Interim Afforestation Schemes (via General De Minimis) scheme is open but only to farmers that hold a valid technical approval as of the 31st December 2022 who had not commenced work on planting.
According to the Department over 1,500 hectares have been approved under the Interim Afforestation Schemes (via General De Minimis), with almost 600 hectares newly established.
“The level of planting taking place under the interim scheme is encouraging but we need the programme to be approved without delay and the afforestation scheme to be open to all farmers,” he said.
In November 2022, funding in excess of €1.3 billion was announced for the new the forestry programme. The funding package saw premium rates for farmers increase by between 46% to 66% depending on the forest type established and the duration of the premium payment extended to 20 years.