Wednesday, 29 July 2020
Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine
246. To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if the horticulture sector will be supported; if the mushroom production and processing industry and all related food production entities will have continued access to Irish peat which is an essential raw material for their viability into the future; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19239/20]
The extent of any commercial impact on the horticulture sector arising from a decision by Bord na Mona to suspend all peat harvesting will depend initially on the level of domestic stocks of horticultural peat on hand, alternative suppliers of peat and the development of alternative growing mediums.
My Department is participating in a cross-departmental working group led by the former Department of Culture Heritage and the Gaeltacht which is evaluating the use of peat in the commercial horticulture sector. Future options around the role and use of peat in the horticulture sector are currently under discussion in the working group.
My Department recognising the importance of the horticultural sector and continues to provide a range of dedicated supports. These include the Scheme of Investment Aid for the Development of the Commercial Horticulture which provides support to all sectors within horticulture at a rate of 40% on capital investments.
On a broader level, the EU producer organisation scheme operated by my Department provides EU assistance at a rate of 50% to Producer Organisations implementing measures that support competitiveness, market development and research and innovation through approved operational programmes. Indeed, in relation to the question posed, my Department is funding research projects examining the scope for peat reduction and peat alternatives through one of the Producer Organisations operating in the fruit and vegetable sector.