Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue has been called on to provide “urgent” support for the horticulture sector from the over €9.5 million in EU funding.

In June, the European Commission announced a support package worth €330 million for 22 member states to support the agriculture sector, including in Ireland.

The fund seeks to support Irish farmers impacted by adverse weather, high input costs and market-related issues, all of which have “hit” the horticulture sector.

This is according to the fruit and vegetable chair of the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA), Niall McCormack, who said the sector has been in “disarray for a long time”.

Horticulture sector

Input costs have not abated and growers are continuing to leave the industry, with many left in a situation where they don’t have the confidence to plan for the next season, he said.

Weather conditions are now “extremely difficult” for outdoor winter crops in particular McCormack said, adding that yield reductions and crop losses are “inevitable”.

He said there is “no doubt” that exceptional aid is necessary for some sectors in 2023, but added:

“Anyone involved in the production of horticulture or tillage crops has been particularly affected. Without support, we are going to see a further loss of horticulture growers.”

When the European Commission announced the funding, it said that EU member states, including Ireland, may complement the support up to 200% with national funds.

“The minister must leverage off this and ensure any exceptional aid is topped up with additional funding in the forthcoming budget,” McCormack said.

Previously, calls have also been made by different farm organisations, including the IFA, urging the government to use the €9.5 million fund to support the sheep sector and the tillage sector.