IFA Horticulture Chairman Paul Brophy is calling on the government to provide support for horticulture producers whose businesses were severely impacted by Storm Emma.
He said many growers in the soft fruit and nursery stock sectors in particular, have experienced devastating damage due to the heavy snowfall.
“Between collapsed growing structures and subsequent loss of plants, it is estimated that the final cost of the snow storm will exceed €5 million. The storm came at the worst possible time while nurseries were at full capacity due to spring demand and strawberry tunnels were full of plants for the fruiting season starting in April.”
“The damage has been particularly acute in the eastern counties of Dublin, Kildare Wicklow and Wexford, with issues also in some southern counties. The snowfall in these areas was unprecedented; many sites recorded some of the highest snow accumulations in a generation.
“Farmers worked tirelessly through the storm to protect their businesses but they were overwhelmed by the extent of the snowfall.
Paul Brophy explained that although some of the businesses had insurance to cover some structural losses, in general most producers cannot currently obtain cover for items such as polytunnels, crops and glasshouses.
He reminded the Government that the cold spell demonstrated how reliant the country is on farmers to get fresh produce to supermarket shelves, “We cannot afford to take food production for granted. The government needs to stand up and support this sector, which provides more than 6,500 jobs in rural areas and is worth €400 million to the national economy.”