Tuesday, 29 September 2020

Questions (1005)

Matt Carthy

Question:

1005. Deputy Matt Carthy asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the supports he plans to put in place in accordance with the commitments made in the programme for Government to ensure it will still be possible to purchase mushrooms, lettuce and herbs grown here in shops and garden centres at a reasonable cost when stocks of horticultural peat produced here are exhausted in the near future and will have to be imported in view of the fact there is no alternative available that replaces horticultural peat in full; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26461/20]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

I am aware of the current dependance of the mushroom industry on peat as a growing medium.

Following on from the publication of a report on the review of the use of peat moss in the horticulture industry by the Department of Heritage, Culture and the Gaeltacht,, Minister Noonan set up a working group to consider impacts on the sector.

It is proposed that this working group will represent Government Departments, including Agriculture, Food and the Marine, State Agencies, Environmental Non-Governmental Organisations and industry stakeholders. This working group will address the key issues raised in the report itself, including future use of peat by the horticulture sector.

At a broader level, my Department provides a support to the horticulture industry through the Scheme of Investment Aid for the Development of the Horticulture Sector. Financial support is available to assist growers and businesses through grant aid for capital investments in specialised plant and equipment including renewable energy, as well as technology adoption specific to commercial horticulture production.

It is expected that the full budget allocation to the scheme of €6 million for 2020 will be drawn down by the end of the year. This Scheme is 100% funded by the Irish Government.

In addition, my Department administers the EU Producer Organisation Scheme for Fruit and Vegetables which allows growers jointly market their production in order to strengthen the position of producers in the marketplace. Members of a Producer Organisation may also qualify for co-funding for agreed measures such as Environmental action, marketing, Production Quality, Research and Crisis prevention & management including mutual funds.