Horticulture Reports

Horticulture Council Report February 2024

Market Report 

It was an extremely difficult harvest for all growers and this particularly impacted yields of winter crops, where many losses occurred as a result. The combination of very difficult weather conditions throughout the year, staffing shortages, market challenges, land availability and lack of growing media created a very difficult backdrop for the season.  

Growers are now planning for the year ahead and unfortunately costs have not abated again this season, especially labour costs. IFA has continued to engage with all retailers on sustainable pricing of fresh produce, a number of fresh lines have increased retail prices. 


The announcement before Christmas was shocking for the industry. Although the provision of 1000 additional work permits is welcome, the revised salary roadmap is unworkable and will have crippling consequences for the industry. For a farm to advertise at €30,000 for new employees would be effectively like setting a new minimum wage in the horticulture sector. This announcement at such short notice is unacceptable.  

Ireland is an outlier as it is one of the only countries in Europe that does not have a permanent structured work permit scheme to support the sector. The long-awaited seasonal work permit scheme has been pushed out to Q1 for 2025, therefore, although not entirely fit for purpose, the current General Pilot Permit is the only scheme the sector currently has access to. 

All horticulture/farmer employers were excluded from the Increased Cost of Business Scheme (ICOB) which is a once-off grant to help small and medium businesses offset the increase in minimum wage as the sector is exempt from commercial rates. Therefore, there is no support mechanism for the horticulture sector to offset any of the increased costs.  

IFA had a number of political engagements on this and met with Minister Neale Richmond. The main asks included were to maintain the status quo in terms of the GEP salary proposed roadmap and expedite the seasonal work permit scheme.  

Food Regulator  

The new office of the Agri-Food Regulator was launched in December. This new State body tasked with regulating the food supply chain, An Rialálaí Agrabhia, will play a very important role in bringing fairness back into our food supply chain and level the playing pitch in negotiations between farmers, processors and retailers. Former IFA President Joe Healy will chair the Board. More information is available on  


Scheme of Investment Aid for the Development of the Commercial Horticulture Sector 

IFA successfully lobbied budget for the Horticultural Investment scheme to be maintained at €10 million. The scheme is essential for the continued development and competitiveness of the Irish horticulture sector. 

Activity since last National Council  

  • Payments will begin to issue under the horticulture crisis fund. IFA successfully lobbied for funding of €2.383M for growers last year. More details on  
  • IFA met with Minister Kieran O’Donnell on the issue of commercial rates. In recent years there has been an increase in inspections on potato, tillage and horticulture premises by Local Government on behalf of the Valuation Office. Inspectors are deeming storage sheds, packing sheds, and washing bays ratable. These buildings are not ratable by virtue of constituting “Farm buildings” as defined Valuation Act 2001. If a precedent is set, then almost all agriculture buildings could be viewed as ratable, creating potentially disastrous for all agriculture sectors. Accordingly, the current exemption is not fit for purpose. The Minister agreed to review which practises are taking place in local authorities.  
  • IFA met with all leading retailers to discuss how the season is unfolding, the spiralling input prices and adjustment to prices to aid growers during this critical period.  
  • IFA addressed the Joint Oireachtas Committee on the topic of “Challenges in the Irish Horticulture sector with a focus on Food Waste”. More details can be found https://www.ifa.ie/farm-sectors/fairness-must-be-restored-to-irish-horticulture-sector 
  • IFA met with Minister Neale Richmond in January on the proposed GEP roadmap and the seasonal work permit scheme.  
  • Green Cities Promotions activities continue as part of the European funded initiative. The campaign aims to promote green landscaping in urban areas and buildings in Ireland, while encouraging the use of locally-grown planting stock. The promotion is 80% funded from the E.U. with 20% coming from the industry. Growers have been sent invoices in participation of this campaign which has been well received thus far.  
  • The annual IHNSA AGM took place in the Killeshin Hotel in late November.  
  • An online meeting of the IFA Mushroom Committee took place on January 5th.  
  • Mark Walsh was elected as IFA Horticulture chairman in January.  

EU/COPA Developments  

  • IFA continues to engage with our COPA COGECA counterparts on all issues.  

Upcoming Events / Issues 

  • The EU promotional campaign for Fruit and Veg is now underway. More information can be seen here https://fruitnveg.ie/. The promotion is 80% funded from the EU with the remaining contribution from growers. 
  • An IFA delegation will meet with Minister Simon Coveney on February 14th on the increased cost and availability of labour for the sector, especially the General Employment Permit Salary roadmap.  
  • A National Horticulture meeting will take place later this month. More details will follow.  

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