Ash dieback compensation ‘might form part’ of budget – Hackett

Ashdieback 3

Ash dieback compensation ‘might form part’ of budget – Hackett

Compensation for Irish farmers affected by ash dieback “might form part” of the upcoming budget, according to Minister of State with responsibility for land use and biodiversity, Pippa Hackett.

Hackett made this statement today (Wednesday, September 20) on the Agriland livestream, in an interview with Agriland journalist Aisling O’Brien, at the National Ploughing Championships.

She said “there will have to be some supports” for farmers involved in forestry who were impacted by ash dieback.

Minister Hackett also clarified the position of Ireland’s €1.3 billion Forestry Programme 2023-2027, which was announced last year.

Hackett confirmed that approval was gained from the European Commission and said: “The €1.3 billion covers the 20 years of the programme.

“So if you plant a tree today, as a farmer you will get 20 years premium and that will cover that. So that’s what the allocation is for.

“There were criticisms over how long the state aid was taking to get the approval. That was really in the lap of the commission.”

Due to the process for applying for the state aid not beginning until January 1, 2023, Hackett said “we were never going to have a programme in place straight away”.

When asked about the opening of the Organic Farming Scheme, Minister Hackett said an “official” date has not been set.

“We still have to finalise the budgetary requirements for next year on that,” he said.

Minister Hackett said that last year, the scheme opened in October and that she was expecting this year for the scheme to open at “the same sort of date” and for it to remain open until “mid-December”.

“We really want to see all farmers come into organics, and dairy is a very important part of that.

“The organic prices stays pretty stable over the years. If you look at the average price over the last ten years, it doesn’t fluctuate to same to degree as the conventional price,” she said.

“I know a number of dairy farmers who only recently converted…but they made the changes on their farming systems, many years before they went organic.

“They were replacing some of those high input things, whether its fertiliser of feed with crops they can grow themselves on their farms.”

The targeted area of agricultural land to be farmed organically by 2030 is 10%, and Minster Hackett was asked if she felt this was achievable to reach, with the current figure standing at close to 4%.

“We might even surpass it…I’m absolutely confident we will,” Minster Hackett said.

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