IFA President Tim Cullinan has called on the Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed to put in place supports for the ornamental plant sector (cut flowers, ornamental plants, trees and bulbs). Preliminary feedback suggests the sector has suffered a drop in production by up to 80% due to the ongoing impact of Covid-19.
The closure of garden centres at what is typically the busiest time of the year for this sector has been devastating.
Irish Hardy Nursery Stock Association (IHNSA) Chairman, Val Farrell said, “The amenity horticulture sector is worth over €77m to the national economy, which includes €19m of exports. Apart from the economic contribution, ornamental products also positively contribute to the quality of life and a healthy lifestyle for all citizens, including mental health”.
The very survival of the ornamental sector in Ireland, and all related jobs and businesses, is now at stake he said. It is vital that this sector is supported through this challenging time to continue to grow markets and take advantage of our high plant health EU designation.
IFA proposes the adoption of urgent measures at Government and EU Commission level to prevent the COVID-19 emergency from having an irreversible impact on the sector.
- Extending the newly adopted Temporary Framework for state aid to the ornamental sector. A flexible approach must be adopted to the existing CAP rules and for extraordinary support measures
- Access to low cost credit/finance must be available for all horticultural operators, including the Credit Guarantee Scheme and COVID-19 Loan Scheme.
The IHNSA Chairman concluded by urging the public to support the sector by purchasing plants where they are available in selected retail outlets and online.