IFA Fruit and Vegetable Chair Niall McCormack said that the horticulture support scheme is welcome, however, the fact that some growers will not qualify needs to be rectified in this essential support package. A support scheme with unknown payment rates does little too alleviate the financial pressure that all growers are under today.
“The fact that the important white mushroom production sector and the vast majority of Irish grown strawberries appear to be excluded from this support scheme needs to be rectified,” Niall McCormack said.
“These growers all experienced the same hugely inflated input costs as other sub-sectors of Irish horticulture. The mushroom sector has seen a mass exodus of growers in recent years and this latest announcement is not restoring any confidence,” he said.
“Not putting national funding alongside the €2.383m EU Agricultural Reserve for the horticulture sector was a missed opportunity that the Minister must fix in the upcoming Budget,” he said.
“The increased costs of growing all horticulture crops, compounded by the price pressure from food buyers, means that there is no room to account for events such as weather or input cost spike. “Growers are currently harvesting outdoor crops in extremely challenging conditions with losses inevitable,” Niall McCormack added.
Niall McCormack said the funding could have been a lot more meaningful, because the Commission gave Member States the opportunity to complement agricultural reserve funding with 200% funding from the National Exchequer. This additional funding would have ensured all sectors were included and that payments are not just a token gesture.
“The Natural Horticulture Strategy strives to ensure the future economic sustainability of our sector, further support that is inclusive of all growers is required to ensure our sector does not decline further,” he said.