Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carthy has called on the Government to rectify injustices in Coillte Forestry Farm Partnership Scheme.
Matt Carthy said:
“Coillte’s forestry farm partnerships are anything but partnerships if the schemes they are enticing farmers into do not guarantee a fair return for farmers who hand over management of their land.
“An investigation conducted by That’s Farming this morning shows that the State owned forestry business is cheating farmers out of tens of thousands of euros of what should rightfully be owed to them under the terms of a partnership like this.
“The fact that income derived from thinnings have been excluded from the contracts farmers signed shows that there was no effort made to compensate for the significantly weaker bargaining position of farmers entering into these contracts.
“Thinning not only has the potential to increase the value of final crop trees by up to 12% due to increasing average tree sizes, but the process itself can create an immediate periodic cash returns for farmers.
“The renewal of this scheme over the summer repeated this policy of not paying farmers anything from monies obtained from thinning, even though the amount could raise to the thousands.
“The structuring of a Government scheme in this way is clearly an injustice to farmers.
“The Government must understand that once a farmer plants trees on his land, it is very difficult if not impossible to return that land to another farming use. Farmers have therefore put their trust in this scheme as a way to earn money, and to help the Government meet climate targets. This partnership cannot be exploited.
“Schemes like this must be run fairly or farmers will be forced to simply sell land.
“I have written to the Minister to ask that farmers receive what should be rightfully theirs from thinning activities. I have also called on him to release information on the amount of money made on each plot of land participating in the Partnership scheme from thinning activities.