FARMING representative and poli- ticians have welcome the changes to the Forest Environment Protec- tion Scheme (FEPS) announced last week, hailing them as a major oppor- tunity for Clare farmers.
Speaking following the announce- ment, newly-elected IFA Farm For- estry Committee Chairman, Pat Hennessy, welcomed the changes.
“The new package includes land- owners now being able to receive a FEPS premium of €200 for each hectare of woodland planted, regard- less of farm size, and will encourage larger farmers to plant,” he said.
“The scheme has also been made
more attractive for farmers with small holdings as the minimum planted area allowed has now been reduced from eight to five hectares for farmers with less than 30 hec- eho
Meanwhile, Clare TD Tony Killeen has also welcomed the announce- ment, saying it will be of benefit for both small and large Clare farmers.
“This is a major development in the forestry schemes and it should be particularly suitable for farmers in Clare. It is good news for both small and larger REPS farmers with en- hanced incentives in all categories.”
“Clare farmers that plant eight hectares or more will now receive a FEPS premium of €200 for each hec-
tare of woodland planted, regardless of farm size. For owners of farms of 30 hectares and less, the minimum plantation size has been reduced to five hectares.
“In this case the FEPS payment will be €150 per hectare. The FEPS premium 1s payable in addition to the existing Afforestation Scheme grants and premium available meaning that a farmer planting eight hectares could, for the duration of FEPS, earn an annual tax-free forestry premium of up to €6,000 without affecting his/her Single Payment.”
The FEPS Scheme was introduced on a pilot basis in early 2007 to pro- vide a new option for farmers look- ing at forestry. FEPS offered an ad-
ditional premium, to the existing LOO per cent planting grant and yearly premium payments available under the Afforestation Scheme, of up to €200 per hectare for five years de- pending on farm size.
The scheme was targeted at partici- pants in REPS and was designed to encourage farmers to establish and maintain high nature-value forestry through a number of different meas- ures, particularly in the area of en- hanced bio-diversity and water qual- ity protection.
All forestry payments are tax-free, providing less than 50 per cent of a farm is planted, will not affect a farmer’s single payment entitle- ments.