A “lack of decisive action” by various government departments has “led to a crisis of systemic and overwhelming proportions for the horticulture sector”, according to midlands TD Carol Nolan.
Speaking ahead of a meeting of the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine later today (Tuesday, July 6), deputy Nolan urged the committee members to take action on the matter.
The committee will hear from representatives of Growing Media Ireland, who it is expected, will inform it that “only immediate action over the summer can avert a looming economic, employment and environmental disaster”.
Commenting, deputy Nolan said:
“It simply beggars belief that despite 15 months of clear unambiguous warnings from horticulture representatives, we are still approaching a situation that involves government moving the sector toward the precipice.”
Noting that issues have all been flagged and “workable and constructive” solutions have been offered, the Laois-Offaly TD added:
“This has now placed 17,000 jobs at real and imminent risk in Offaly, Laois, the midlands, the west and beyond.
Continuing, the independent TD added:
“I also find it absolutely bizarre that reports are now being made indicating that officials from the Department of Housing, Department of Agriculture and the Department of Climate Change and Environment have refused an invitation to appear in front of the committee.”
She said this was in “stark contrast” to a parliamentary question reply in January from the Minister for Agriculture.
The reply stated that “once the inter-agency report on the review of the use of Peat Moss in the Horticultural Industry was published, the working group established on foot of that report would commit itself to address the key issues raised in the report itself”, the TD noted.
“This lack of engagement is hardly what addressing the issues should look like.
“We must protect, create and retain jobs with the horticulture sector – not destroy them, either purposely or for some vague and counterproductive climate agenda.
“Government must wake up and listen to the sector before there is no viable sector worth talking about,” deputy Nolan concluded.