Mixed reaction from farmers to Ash Dieback payment says IFA

IFA Farm Forestry chair Jason Fleming said there is a very mixed reaction to the Government announcement of a payment of €5,000 per hectare for forest owners affected by Ash Dieback.

The IFA Farm Forestry Committee held a meeting to get the views of farmers from around the country to the proposed new Reconstitution Ash Dieback Scheme.

“Let’s be clear: this payment in no way compensates farmers for the financial loss incurred or the emotional toll the disease has taken on them and their families.  But it is the first time within the scheme that a farmer’s financial loss is recognised,” he said.

He added that many farmers were relying on the income from these forests for their pensions. Noting that the payment will provide some financial relief for some farmers, he said it is still only “a drop in the ocean”.

“Farmers remain concerned that the clearance grant of €2,000 per hectare and afforestation grants are not sufficient to cover the costs of re-establishing some of these forests, particularly older ones, and these costs will eat into farmers’ payment”.

Mr Fleming said that farmers are waiting to see the terms and conditions attached to the payment, as a lot of unanswered questions remain.

“The Ash Dieback Taskforce that is to be established must ensure there is flexibility within the scheme, as well as the approach taken by Government. All options need to be considered, including review of clearance costs, the removal of replanting obligation, natural regeneration, etc” concluded Jason Fleming.