The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney, TD, announced this week that the annual tax-free forestry premium payments for 2013 will be issued by his Department at the end of this week. ‘Payments in respect of 8,873 contracts totalling €28.3 million will be issued by my Department in the coming days. This will bring the total amount of payments paid to date in 2013 to some €51 million in respect of over 14,000 plantations, the majority of which are owned by farmers”.
Further to the recent enhancement of the Department’s Integrated Forest Information System (IFORIS), forest owners may now apply online for their annual forest premiums, and may also view some of their payment history and maps of their forest plantations. Minister Coveney commented that this online facility, IFORIS iNet, had enabled the payment by his Department of forestry premiums amounting to €22.7 million in respect of 5,591 contracts so far this year.
Minister Coveney added, “Following this latest batch of payments, my Department will continue to process premium applications and it is estimated that the total paid out in forest premium payments will be in the region of €75 million by year-end.”
Under the Forestry Programme, forestry premiums are payable each year for up to 20 years. There is usually a main forestry premium payment run each year at which time most forest owners, to whom a premium payment is due, are paid. Departmental expenditure on forestry premiums in 2012 totalled €75.7 million, the bulk of which was paid in April 2012.
Highlighting the attractiveness of forestry as a land use option, the Minister suggested that the availability of an afforestation grant towards the establishment of a forestry plantation, the annual payment of a forestry premium for up to 20 years, the increasing market for forest thinnings and the value of the forestry crop at clearfell all merit serious consideration by landowners.
In this context, he added, “I was pleased to note that more than double the anticipated number of landowners availed of a one to one consultation with a Teagasc Forestry Adviser during their nationwide series of forestry clinics earlier this year. I understand that most of the nearly 600 landowners who attended are considering planting forestry on the farm. These consultations are important to assist the landowner in making an informed decision on forestry as an enterprise”.
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