IFA National Farm Forestry Chairman, Vincent Nally has said that the way that farmers affected by ash dieback have been abandoned by the Government is a disgrace and he is demanding that Minister of State Andrew Doyle introduce a new scheme as a matter of urgency.
“It is now nearly a year since the Department of Agriculture closed the previous scheme and ten months since submissions were sought to develop a new scheme to support farmers,” said Mr. Nally.
Mr Nally said that ash dieback has a devastating consequence for the survival, growth and wood quality of ash trees, and therefore has a devastating consequence on the commercial value of the timber crop.
“Farmers planted ash encouraged and supported by the Department through higher grants and premiums. They feel very aggrieved at how they have been treated by the Department, particularly since it was the Department that did not have adequate controls in place to stop the importation of infected plants, that has seriously damaged their investment,” said the IFA Farm Forestry Chairman.
He continued, “The management of ash dieback is very challenging and there is no scientific evidence that thinning infected plantations is beneficial in the long-term when ash dieback is present. In fact, when dieback is severe, research suggests that the best approach is to harvest remaining commercial timber before value depreciation and to replant the area with other tree species.”
Vincent Nally said, “Farmers must have the option to clearfell and replant with a specie of their choice under the any new scheme. All infected plantations must be eligible for a Reconstitution Scheme (Chalara), which would grant aid farmers to replant with tree species that satisfies their management objectives and provides a forest premium on the replanted land for 15 years according to GPC rate.”
He concluded that an option not to replant, without penalties, must also be available under certain circumstances.