IFA President Joe Healy has called on Horticulture Minister Andrew Doyle to support the nursery stock growers who have experienced extensive damage caused by Storm Ophelia.
Joe Healy led a delegation of nursery stock producers to meet with Minister Doyle, where he outlined the extensive destruction caused by the recent hurricane on tree nurseries in particular. “Some tree nurseries have experienced severe financial losses. In the worst cases, the future of their businesses is now in jeopardy.”
Mr Healy reminded the Minister that the nursery stock sector has endured very difficult times in recent years and requires support to ensure future viability.
Irish Hardy Nurserystock Association (IHNSA) Chairman Val Farrell told the Minister that this the same industry that endured huge losses due to the severe frosts of 2010, and many are still trying to work with the problem of the ash dieback disease restrictions on their nurseries, for which they have yet to receive any compensation.
Mr Farrell outlined to Minister Doyle that the amenity horticulture sector is worth over €71m to the national economy, which includes €16m of exports. Due to Ireland’s high plant health status, there are further opportunities for expansion in this sector.
However, the IHNSA chairman stressed that this recent storm has the potential to seriously undermine the Irish nursery stock sector both from a financial and plant health perspective. “If Irish nurseries cease to produce certain trees, it will automatically mean increased imports, which increases the inherent risk to plant health in this country.”
The delegation also urged the Minister to immediately introduce the Brexit low-cost loan scheme promised in Budget 2018, to ensure that the Nurserystock sector gets an equal opportunity to access the fund.