An independent price index for Irish-grown timber must be established to provide transparency in the market for plantation owners, the IFA has claimed.

The farm body said producers and buyers should feed into the confidential system.

Such a mechanism would include Coillte and private forest owners, as well as sawmills, panel board mills and energy companies.

There has been an absence of independent timber price information this year due to the inability of the Wood Price Quarterly (WPQ), which is compiled by UCD and the Irish Timber Growers Association (ITGA), to secure data.

Farmers need to better understand market conditions

WPQ said an absence of data supplied by Coillte, private forestry companies, consultants and timber processors meant it was impossible to provide accurate standing timber prices to the industry.

IFA farm forestry chair Vincent Nally said greater transparency was needed in the timber market, as the private forest sector matures and more farmers are selling timber.

“Farmers need to better understand market conditions and the price they can expect for their timber. The independent price index should be published at a minimum every two months,” Nally said.

“Compared with other European countries the market information available to timber growers in Ireland is hit and miss, with only some stakeholders providing prices,” he added.

Coillte told the Irish Farmers Journal that it took a decision earlier this year not to publish quarterly timber prices “as the market was in turmoil”.

“We have also to consider our changing position in the market with the growth of the private sector. We now consider this information, if published on a quarterly basis, to be commercially sensitive,” a Coillte spokesman said.