National afforestation policy not in best interests of young farmers

Macra policy launch

National afforestation policy not in best interests of young farmers

Macra na Feirme recently launched its afforestation policy which challenges the current national afforestation policy and outlines the concerns of young farmers.

The Macra na Feirme policy offers some alternatives to the current forestry strategy being bullishly implemented by the Irish government.

Macra na Feirme National President Seán Finan and Agri Affairs committee Vice Chairman Thomas Duffy recently presented the Macra na Feirme afforestation policy to Junior Minister at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine with responsibility for Forestry Andrew Doyle.

At the meeting National President Seán Finan said, “From a young farmer’s perspective, Macra na Feirme is concerned about the current afforestation programme and questions the potential bubble being created by the current levels of forestry grant aid and premiums available.

Macra na Feirme does not oppose forestry and believes it has a strong economic role to play and has a role in Ireland’s climate change mitigation strategy but the current forestry programme needs to be re-examined”.

The current grants and premiums being offered under the afforestation policy are not sustainable and are providing much unwarranted competition across the country for land between young farmers and a variety of enterprises including private investors and forestry companies.

Macra na Feirme Agri Affairs Vice Chairman Thomas Duffy who contributed significantly to the development of the policy said, “We want to be clear that afforestation can help the rural economy, but only if afforestation is not in direct competition with the interests of the next generation of young farmers. At the moment we feel this is the case for land in certain parts of the country.”