“Rural jobs and the Irish mushroom sector itself are now at risk if the peat issue is not resolved,” a senator has warned.
As the war in Ukraine increases the pressure on the horticulture sector, the Kildare Growers group has called for emergency legislation to allow for the harvesting of peat for horticultural purposes to resume.
It warned of a “disastrous season ahead” because of the lack of peat supplies from the Baltic region.
The amount required for the Irish horticultural industry is 0.12% of total peatlands nationwide, according to the group.
“Our government has driven us to import peat stocks, with all the negative environmental implications this brings, but now we can’t even get the supplies we need from the Baltics. We are being placed in an impossible situation.
“We have already reduced our peat usage by 30% using wood fibre which clearly demonstrates our commitment to using feasible alternatives.
“We want the government to allow us immediate access to our own superior local materials until we have viable alternatives,” Larry Doran, chair of the Kildare Growers, stated.
Senator Victor Boyhan, who is a member of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine, is supporting the group’s request for emergency legislation.
Given the crisis facing the horticulture sector, the independent senator called on Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue “to waste no time” in seeking government approval for the legislation.
Boyhan explained that this will “allow for the harvesting of peat essential for the commercial production of mushrooms and other food crops”.
He said that he was “extremely disappointed” that an independent expert group, promised by government to assess levels and suitability of current stocks of peat across all suppliers had not yet been commissioned.
The senator also claimed that promised free advice has not been provided to those who wish to extract peat in a manner which is compliant with the relevant regulations on sub-30 hectare bogs.