Fruit and vegetable growers, who are members of the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) Horticulture Committee, are said to be reluctant to take over the role of chair due to the “severe pressure” they are currently experiencing.
The position has been vacant since Paul Brophy’s term ended at the beginning of this year.
However, it is understood that different members of the committee have taken a lead depending on the issue that is raised.
According to a spokesperson for IFA said that the committee is “extremely busy” dealing with the current crisis in the sector and the challenges facing the various products.
“The horticulture sector is under severe pressure at the moment and growers are dealing with unprecedented challenges.
“The role of IFA committee chair is very demanding and time-consuming,” the spokesperson explained.
Along with dealing with issues within their own farm gate, such as spiralling energy costs and tight margins, another reason that members of the committee may not want to take over the reins is a potential impact on their relationship with retailers.
“The other reality is that there is a reluctance amongst some growers to become a public spokesperson for the sector as it might bring them into conflict with retailers.
“Unlike other sectors, growers have a direct commercial relationship with the retailers they supply and this can make it more difficult for someone to take on the role,” the IFA spokesperson stated.
Meanwhile, the exclusion of soft fruit growers from the Horticulture Exceptional Aid Scheme has been labelled “inexplicable” and “unacceptable” by the IFA.
The association welcomed the €2.8 million scheme, which was announced by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) on Monday (June 6), but added that the details of it must be revisited, as it is not supportive of all in the industry.