A report that is exploring the growing potential of fibre crops such as hemp is near completion, according to Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue.

The minister said his department is currently finalising the report to “fully explore the growing potential of such crops” and whether they have a viable market.

Currently, hemp is included as an eligible crop under the Basic Payment Scheme and any producer who grows hemp in Ireland, and who has a licence issued by the Minister for Health, is entitled to apply for payment on his/her entitlements under the Basic Payment Scheme.

The minister made his comments in a written answer to a parliamentary question posed by Sinn Féin’s agriculture spokesperson, Deputy Matt Carthy. The Sinn Féin deputy asked about the minister’s proposals to support producers of hemp in Ireland.

Minister McConalogue said that once he has considered the findings of the report, he will be able to make a determination regarding the future viability of growing hemp for fibre in Ireland, and whether any additional supports are warranted.

In his response, he also stated that cannabis, which includes hemp, is listed in the Misuse of Drugs Regulations 2017, which means it is subject to the strictest level of control.

“It is an offence in Ireland to cultivate, import, export, produce, supply and possess cannabis, except in accordance with a licence issued by the Minister for Health. I do not propose any additional supports for the cultivation of hemp,” he said.