Vincent Nally is throwing his hat in the ring for the position of IFA Farm Forestry chair.
The Westmeath man - a married father-of-three - enlists the help of his eldest son - a qualified engineer - to run the family farm.
Vincent - who has been farming in excess of forty years - runs a store-to-beef system with bulls and bullocks and has planted forestry on four occasions over the past twenty-five years; he has farmed store lambs down through the years.
Vincent holds a level-8 BSc in Rural Development from N.U.I; has undertaken courses in Media Studies and Computer Skills and is qualified to deliver chainsaw safety courses as part of T.A.M.S. and for FRS Training.
Vincent has been an active member of the IFA (Irish Farmers’ Association) for up to twelve years and attends monthly meetings.
He interest in forestry began about twenty-five years ago when he planted ten-acres of his poorer-type quality land and he planted some of his own land as recent as last year.
Vincent said he sees a “huge benefit” in growing trees stressing that forestry helps nature and biodiversity and makes a viable use of land that may not be suitable for mainstream farming.
“Benefits of forestry include being labour extensive; there’s a tax-free component to it with very little establishment costs, unlike other enterprises.” Vincent Nally told Catherina Cunnane - That’s Farming.
“It doesn’t really have a cash flow, you are waiting for the end product to realise the investment.”
When asked what he would bring the role of IFA Forestry Chair, the Westmeath native acknowledged that huge challenges exist along with several opportunities.
“Forestry historically has been seen as a secondary activity and commodity. Vincent outlined.
He said that one of his first steps if election would be ensuring that the bottom-up process comes into effect - engaging with the “ordinary farmer on the ground” and forestry KT-groups.
“I talk to people around rings at marts and some say that the IFA is not doing enough for the farmer and that the IFA is not listening.”
He highlighted the afforestation controversy in Leitrim and Sligo and other counties as another key area of focus.
“There is a lot of frustration particuarly in Leitrim and Sligo in terms of investment funds coming in. Common ground and solutions are needed.”
“It’s not just planting and the availability of land that locals are concerned about. Some are afraid that they may be burnt in their houses - that is a very valid concern.”
Coillte Farm Partnerships
Vincent said he would like to see Pat Collins’ work in resolving payment and management difficulties with Coillte forestry contracts continued.
“I have a personal problem with Coillte relating to getting a right-of-way regularised and using Coillte property for extracting timber.”
Encouraging farmers to plant
Vincent believes forestry is going to be centre stage in the next short while because of emissions; carbon credits and carbon trading.
He said that one of the main barriers that discourage farmers from forestry is the re-planting obligation.
“Once you plant land for forestry, there is a requirement to leave it in forestry forever and farmers don’t like that condition. There should be some way around it.”
“Another issue is once the premium is up there is no income from year 15. There should be some recognition - a small income - for carbon from year 15-25/35 onwards.”
With a keen interest in forestry and safety, Vincent would like to see every farmer undertaking training, particularly in chainsaw use; wearing chainsaw PPE and being aware of the legal requirements for felling of trees.
Vincent has been supporting the HSA for the past five years and he is the Irish Rural Link representative within the Farm Safety Partnership.
His work in the area of farm safety includes producing a slurry safety sign containing best practice guidelines which is mandatory when completing construction work under TAMS as part of Department requirements; producing a DVD on cattle slurry handling with assistance from the Tierney family - Co. Galway and co-ordinating a slurry safety competition.
As well as supporting the farming community, Vincent has an interest in supporting rural areas and sat on the LEADER partnership in Westmeath for a number of years; he is now on the Financial Evaluation Committee.
Vincent is a member of the Westmeath Farm Forestry KT group and a number of years ago, he along with six others built the first self-propelled Irish-made forestry machine - a project supported by LEADER.
“This is the next challenge and I hope that I have something that is worthwhile to offer in terms of academic performance; my experience and my business acumen.”
“I have a track record of delivery and working with people and working for people.” Vincent Nally concluded.
Image source: Peter Gohery. Pictured: Left: Vincent Nally (candidate in IFA Farm Forestry Chair election Race]