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Interaction of forestry with other farm schemes

The decision to plant is a long-term land use change and consideration of all implications is recommended, including its potential to complement other farming enterprises and to provide financial, environmental and social benefits. The merits of the forestry option should be explored with family members, including issues such as future objectives and succession planning.

A whole farm planning approach requires analysis of how planting land with trees may interact with other farm schemes. These interactions are generally well disposed towards forestry. Some of the main issues are summarised below.

Forestry and Direct Payments

The Forestry and Direct Payments 2023 Support Document (PDF, updated April 2023) covers the following important topics:

  • Basic Income Support for Sustainability (BISS) Scheme
  • Active Farmer definition
  • Two-Year Usage of Entitlements
  • Complementary Redistributive Income Support for Sustainability (CRISS) Scheme
  • Complementary Income Support for Young Farmers (CIS-YF)
  • Eco Scheme and Forestry
  • GAEC 8 and Eco Scheme Space for Nature
  • Agricultural Practices under Eco Scheme
  • Eco Scheme and forestry parcels
  • Parcels within ACRES
  • And more...

Eligibility for forestry premium payments - definition of a farmer

Forestry Programme 2023-2027

Forests established and maintained in accordance with the Afforestation Scheme 2023-2027 will be eligible for the payment of an annual premium for a period of up to 20 years for farmers and 15 years for non-farmers.

Definition of a farmer

Applicants that can pass the Department's Active Farmer check and that are an approved member of Basic Income Support for Sustainability (BISS) scheme in the application year AND a member of either BISS or Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) in the previous four years will be considered a farmer.

'Active Farmer' means the applicant claiming payments on the land must be the applicant farming and/or managing the land. The farming activities can include meeting a minimum stocking rate (0.10 livestock unit per forage hectare), producing crops, cutting hay/silage, maintaining landscape features.

All other applicants will be deemed to be non-farmers.

Forestry Programme 2014-2020 

The previous Forestry Programme 2014-2020 did not differentiate between 'farmer' and 'non-farmer' premium rates. These forestry premium payments are paid for a period of 15 years.

Afforestation Grant and Premium Scheme 2007- 2013

Eligibility criteria still apply in relation to the sale or transfer of pre-2015 plantations. For example, if the owner of a plantation, established at the farmer rate of premium, plans to sell or transfer all or part of his/her planted land during the term of contract (normally 20 years, corresponding to the previous premium payment period), the transferee may be eligible to continue claiming the farmer premium by meeting the criteria for farmer status. This requires either an active herd number in the new owner's name or documentary proof that 25% of income is from farming, as appropriate.

Forestry and Areas of Natural Constraint

Areas of Natural Constraint (ANC) scheme is an annual area payment based on minimum stocking density. The threshold payment area for most farms is 30 hectares (or 34 hectares on mountain land) as per the previous Disadvantaged Area Scheme.

Planting a forest on a farm holding whose total eligible area is equal to or lower than the threshold (30 or 34 ha) would result in a pro-rata reduction in ANC payment. In the case of holdings above the threshold area, there may be opportunities to maximise ANC payment and also plant some land.

Further information

The forestry option has many benefits but it is important that farmers and landowners are fully aware of the implications in advance of informed decision making.

  • Contact Tom Houlihan, Forestry Specialist with Teagasc for further information

Please note:

Regulations may change over time. Before making an application, please check that you have the most recent information.