Increased rainfall last month was welcomed following the recording of historic moisture deficits for some areas in May. The majority of growers were irrigating earlier than ever and some irrigating before planting crops. There was 68.1mm of rainfall recorded at Dublin airport for the month of June which has improved the water table levels somewhat. Crop establishment and germination was affected by the drought conditions in May and this could have a knock-on effect for the rest of the season, root crops received significant irrigation to get them to establish. Where irrigation wasn’t available some sections of these crops were lost or yields have been significantly reduced. Even though soil moisture conditions have improved and irrigation has reduced, growers have already incurred significant extra costs.
The marketing season for outdoor vegetable crops has begun. Many crops are now on the market and some of these crops have cost up to €800/ac extra to irrigate due to the drought. For salad crops and tomatoes, adequate light levels have been reported to date with favourable growing conditions.
The Continuation of the COVID-19 crisis has seen demand for supplies of fresh produce going to retail remaining strong. It is hoped that the food service sector will continue to improve as restaurants are allowed to re-open as of last week. Those supplying the food service sector have seen demand pick up slightly but it still remains at only 30% of normal.
Activity since last National Council
- A letter was sent to all retailer CEO’s from IFA President Tim Cullinan detailing the implications of the drought for growers and the increased costs incurred.
- All retailers were contacted in relation to stocking more Irish produce such as courgettes, iceberg lettuce etc.
- IFA issues the annual horticulture newsletter which can be found here:
- IFA continues to engage the government to ensure that horticulture workers would continue to be allowed into the Ireland in accordance with EU guidelines. IFA’s media campaign continues to emphasis the critical importance for seasonal workers in horticulture.
- IFA continues to engage with DEASP on the initiative to recruit seasonal workers for the horticultural sector.
- Along with the drought, producers are incurring major extra costs associated with implementing new Health and Safety guidelines due to the pandemic. Retailers have refused to acknowledge this in the farm gate price or show any appreciation for the extra effort which is ensuring fresh produce gets to their shelves. IFA has had a number of meetings with all the main retailers on this issue.
- A COPA meeting of the working party on fruit and vegetables was held last month. The main item on the agenda was the Biodiversity and Farm to Fork Strategy. IFA will continue to monitor this and ensure a fair playing field for all growers.
- IFA put forward a submission for to the Joint Oireachtas detailing support for the horticulture sectors in the context of the next CAP through on-farm investment and the development of producer groups.
- IFA has continued its lobbying with the minister and at EU level in Brussels detailing the severe impact of the crisis on the amenity sector. Serious losses at peak production times in the sector will not be recouped this season. Losses of up to 50% of turnover have been reported in the cut flower sector and direct financial support will be required if this sector is to survive. Last week the commission offered additional €10 million to promote sales of crisis-hit agri-food products. The extra €10 million fund will be available to boost sales of fruit and vegetable, wine, live plants, dairy and certain potatoes. Half of that amount will go to promotion activities run jointly by producer organisations from several EU countries and another half, to national activities. In both cases, promotion can take place either within or outside the EU within a one-year period. Proposals must be submitted by 27 August 2020.
- IFA continue to engage with Bord Bia and other stakeholders in a number of industry campaigns. IFA are involved in the decision-making process of all key activations in these campaigns. More activities are planned in the coming weeks for ‘Celebrate Strawberry Season’.
- IFA have continued contact with both the EU Commission and COPA in relation to the impact of Covid 19 on the Horticulture sector
- IFA has lobbied in Brussels and with DAFM regarding the re authorisation of a number of vital PPP’s such as mancozeb. There is also ongoing work involving a series of meetings regarding emergency derogation on a number of products.
Upcoming Events / Issues
- IFA will continue to demand direct financial aid for the sectors most affected by the Covid 19 pandemic
- Work will continue with Bord Bia in relation to the EU fruit and vegetable campaign. The promotion opportunity is for 80% EU funding towards a significant (all public) generic promotion of fruit and veg. The potential funding is €1m over 2 years with €100k coming from industry.
- IFA will continue its work regarding the retention of key PPP’s.
- Meetings will continue with retailers regarding the issues arising as a result of Covid 19.