Forestry still unloved by most farmers

By Stephen Cadogan

Perhaps the most significant finding when 524 farmers were asked what kind of farming they will be doing in 2025 was that none anticipated being in forestry.

None of those surveyed are currently in forestry, and none intends to be — despite Agriculture Minister Michael Creed suggesting a week before the poll started that all farmers will have to plant a portion of their land with trees, if Ireland is to avoid multimillion-euro fines for greenhouse gas emissions.

However, few farmers in the poll were prepared to anticipate any change of any kind in their principal farming activity between now and 2025.

Slightly fewer anticipated being in dairy or suckler farming in the future.

There was a two-point fall in the 34% now in dairy, to 32% predicted in 2025, and a three points fall in the 22% now in sucklers, to 19%.

It was only when questioned about climate change that the 524 farmers in this poll revealed less certainty about their future.

When the statement, “Climate change impact may lead me to exit farming altogether” was put to them, 6% strongly agreed and an additional 16% slightly agreed. But 44% strongly disagreed with the statement, and an additional 17% slightly disagreed (16% neither agreed or disagreed).

Agreement that climate change might take them out of farming ranged across categories from 16% of 45 to 54-year-olds to 30% of under-35s, and from 24% in livestock to 26% in dairy.

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