The issue of peat shortages in the horticulture sector will come under the spotlight at the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine today (Tuesday, July 20).

Today will see two separate two-hour hearings. The first is on issues relating to the Horse Racing Industry, which will take place in Committee Room 2 at Leinster House, running from 9:30a.m to 11:30a.m. Officials from the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine will attend this hearing.

The second hearing will be on the peat and horticulture issue, which will take place in Committee Room 3 from 3:30p.m to 5:30p.m.

This hearing will be attended by officials from not only the Department of Agriculture but also representatives from the Department of Environment, Climate and Communications; and the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage.

Speaking ahead of today’s hearings, the committee’s chairperson, Fianna Fáil TD Jackie Cahill, said: “The committee will resume the debate on the impact peat shortages have had, and are still having, on the horticulture industry in Ireland and the livelihoods of direct and indirect workers and businesses involved.

“Until there is a viable economic alternative for peat, these industries need to be able to harvest home-grown peat,” the Tipperary TD added.

He continued: “The committee needs clarity around this matter and whether government plans – and the work of the Just Transition Commissioner – will help keep these businesses viable in the future.

“This is an extremely urgent issue and the sector needs answers.”

On the issue of horse racing, Cahill said: “The committee welcomes the debate about the industry in general and opportunity to raise broader policy concerns about horse racing in Ireland with the various bodies and we look forward to continuing this very important conversation with the department.”

The joint committee is comprised of 14 members, nine from the Dáil and five from the Seanad.