IFA President Tim Cullinan said the Government’s inaction on the peat issue is utterly unacceptable.
“The three Ministers need to get together and sort this out. We need political leadership here. We are sick of everyone blaming everyone while small growers and businesses which provide employment in rural Ireland are being put out of business by Government inaction. It’s a total travesty,” he said.
Following an IFA protest in July, we secured a commitment that a short-term solution was imminent in order to avoid the importation of peat from Eastern Europe and the Baltics.
On Saturday, a load that filled 200 trucks was imported from Latvia to supplement this ‘so called’ stockpile of peat.
IFA had highlighted that this stockpile of peat would not be of use for the mushroom industry as fresh excavate is required. If no action is taken, it’s expected that imported peat for the mushroom sector will be required in the next six weeks. In effect, we will be importing product that is 80% water, which is utterly ludicrous.
“It’s an unbelievable scenario given that horticultural peat is readily available and can be harvested in a sustainable, environmentally friendly manner in this country,” he said.
“The difficulty in sourcing peat is the final nail in the coffin for many horticultural operators. It’s very contradictory to talk of expanding our horticultural sector while many growers are currently forced into exiting due to rising input costs, labour shortages, peat availability and diminishing margins,” he said.
The consultation group convened by Minister Malcolm Noonan earlier this year has met on 11 occasions. Every possible alternative has been discussed at length. As it stands, no viable alternative is available for the industry.