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Minister of State Killeen asks Forestry Liaison Group to bring forward recommendations regarding priorities in the Forestry Sector following last weeks budget decisions

Following his recent meetings with representatives of the forestry sector, Mr. Tony Killeen T.D, Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food with responsibility for Forestry today asked the Forestry Liaison Group to urgently consider and bring forward proposals for a number of policy actions to ensure continued confidence in the sector following the recent Budget decisions affecting forestry premium payments.

The Minister of State added:  "As indicated in my recent Press Release following last weeks Budget, I have had a number of meetings with representatives of the forestry sector and I was impressed by the ideas put forward at those meetings. In the light of this, I have asked the Forestry Liaison Group to meet next week to consider new overall priorities within the budget available in 2009 and, based on that, to recommend a set of policy initiatives that in its view will ensure continued confidence in the forestry sector".

Minister of State Killeen envisaged that the Group will report to the Minister within a very short time frame on policy alternatives and present specific recommendations for practical actions that could be taken as early as possible.

The Minister of State reiterated that he is aware that any reduction of funding for forestry represents difficulty for the sector. However the attractiveness of forestry as a land use option remains valid and appropriate for landowners with a 100% planting grant and a 20-year premium. It is also an appropriate use of national funding from the Government's viewpoint given the income it delivers to the rural community, the jobs it continues to sustain and the essential contribution that forestry makes to carbon sequestration in furtherance of the national Climate Change Strategy.

The Minister looks forward to having the views of the Forestry Liaison Group within a matter of weeks.

Date Released: 17 April 2009