Forestry and agriculture


Sir, – Alan Matthew (Opinion, November 1) made several important points about farmers needing the right incentives to reduce emissions. Incentives, whether market-based or through government policy, guide industries and sectors, and this is particularly the case with agriculture.

In 2019, payments to farmers totaled over € 2 billion, including the single farm payment, rural development and forestry payments. Of these expenditures of more than 2 billion euros from the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Marine, forestry received only 90 million euros, or 4.5% of the total.

This imbalance in support needs to be examined, especially when one considers that according to the latest National Farm Survey of Teagasc 2020, only 11% of “cattle” farms are economically viable, with only 25% of “other family farms”. cattle ‘. and 28% of “sheep farms” considered viable.

These three farming systems represent over 70 percent of our farms nationwide, and the direct payments received from the government by these farms exceeded the average family farm income for all three farming systems. Indeed, the State subsidizes the maintenance of these operating systems.

In a separate report from Teagasc and NUI Galway, the long-term average annual net yield for all but the best and worst soil types is positive for replacing most of these farming systems with forestry.

In addition, the journal Nature Communication recently published a study which demonstrates the vital role that new forest plantations can play in combating climate change in Ireland.

Farmers will be major players in achieving the objectives of our Climate Action Plan.

Afforestation needs to be made more attractive to our farming community by dramatically increasing incentives for forestry and tree planting provided by the Ministry of Agriculture.

In recent years, Ireland has planted considerably less than half of its modest national planting targets, but forestry has the potential to be our most important terrestrial carbon sink.

– yours, etc.,

DONAL WHELAN,

Irish timber producer

Association

Dalkey, County Dublin.

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