Outdoor dining can commence on June 7th and indoor dining will return in July; this will be very welcomed by growers supplying the food service sector. Retail demand remains buoyant. Following a very cold and wet spring, early crops are quite poor to date and they are reported to be at least 10 days behind this time last year. Some early crops will need to be replanted due to frost damage.
Planting conditions are very difficult in parts of the country following heavy rainfall in the last two weeks of May. The amount of rainfall measured at Dublin airport was almost 10 times the amount recorded for May this time last year.
Met Eireann month rainfall figures at Dublin Airport
Strawberry growers have reported excellent quality to date but reduced crops due to the lower yielding centenary variety and also weather conditions. Retail demand remains buoyant for Irish strawberries.
Demand in the apple sector remains strong due to reduced crops across Europe last year. The forthcoming crop in Europe looks more positive than last year, however it is early days yet. Irish 2021 crops have experienced frost and hail damage.
The availability of labour remains a key concern for growers. Although the unemployment rate remains above 20% as of May, the agricultural sectors have not seen any appreciable rise in suitable applicants for advertised positions. The reopening of restaurants could also put more strain on students employed in the sector.
Activity since last National Council
- IFA continued to engage with retailers to discuss the upcoming season and convey growers crop losses due to weather conditions and increased input costs in relation to employment, inputs and the pandemic.
- IFA took part in this year’s Help2Harvest which took place as an Online European Jobs DAY. The initiative was organised by the Department of Social Protection and EURES Ireland, with the support of the European Commission. Almost 450 Irish horticultural vacancies were advertised.
- An IFA delegation met with Minister Darragh O’Brien on all horticultural items, focusing primarily on labour and Peat.
- The Peat Use in Horticulture Consultation Group has met a number of times since it was established. IFA has member representatives from the Nursery Stock and Mushroom Committees.
- The Irish Hardy Nursery Stock Association (IHNSA) which is affiliated to IFA, continue to work on the Green Cities Promotions along with Bord Bia. The promotion is 80% funded from the E.U. and will help to promote the greening of public spaces using Irish grown plants. The launch will take place on June 16th.
- 317 farmers applied to the reopening of the Organic Farm Scheme which closed last month. The low level of applicants was partly due to a clash with REAP pilot scheme applications. IFA issued a press release on this.
- An IFA delegation met with Teagasc on the development of organic research last month.
- IFA continued to engage with government to ensure that horticulture workers can continue to be allowed into Ireland in accordance with EU guidelines.
- An amalgamated IFA Field Vegetable and Protected Crops and Soft Fruit Committee meeting was held on the 25th of May.
- A Mushroom committee meeting was held on the 5th of May. The main agenda items included peat harvesting, labour and markets.
- There are ongoing discussions with Lidl and Bord Bia in relation to Global Gap quality assurance.
- IFA completed a submission to the Public Consultation on the Food Ombudsman last month.
- IFA has continued contact with both the EU Commission and COPA in relation to the impact of COVID-19 on the Horticulture sector.
- Lobbying will continue regarding the new CAP particularly in relation to the increased demands for environmental actions within the operational plans for PO’s.
Upcoming Events / Issues
- Meetings will continue with retailers regarding the issues arising as a result of input cost increases, Covid 19 etc and to ensure Irish produce is stocked ahead of imports.
- IFA will meet with Bord na Mona later this month to discuss the remaining stocks of peat available to Irish growers.
- IFA will continue to lobby for essential seasonal workers to be allowed into Ireland for the harvest period and monitor testing and quarantine measures.
- IFA will continue its lobbying campaign in relation to harvesting of peat for the horticultural sector and for action to be taken from the Peat Consultation Group.
- The campaign on the reopening of the work permit scheme will continue.
- IFA will be lobbying to include the sectors of horticulture affected by Brexit in the Brexit Adjustment Reserve (BAR) fund announced by the EU.
- The launch of the Green Cities initiative will take place on June 16th. The Irish Hardy Nursery Stock Association (IHNSA) which is affiliated to IFA, continues to work on the Green Cities Promotions along with Bord Bia. The promotion is 80% funded from the E.U. and will help to promote the greening of public spaces using Irish grown plants.
- The IFA mushroom committee will meet with Minister Hackett this month to discuss industry concerns mainly; labour, peat and PO’s.
- IFA is preparing a submission on the draft Agri Food Strategy in which the horticulture sector will be explicitly mentioned.