Written answers

Thursday, 31 March 2022

Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine

Horticulture Sector

Photo of Brendan SmithBrendan Smith (Cavan-Monaghan, Fianna Fail)
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162. To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine when measures will be introduced to ensure there is an adequate supply of domestic peat for the mushroom and horticulture sector; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14870/22]

Photo of Charlie McConalogueCharlie McConalogue (Donegal, Fianna Fail)
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From having met with representatives of the sector in recent weeks and months, I am aware of the challenges facing the industry.

On 17th January, my Department, in conjunction with the Departments of Environment, Climate and Communications (DECC), and Housing, Local Government and Heritage (Housing) set out a paper that sets out a series of actions to support the horticultural growers who are dependent on peat as a growing medium.

In these targeted actions, which reflect the multi-faceted nature of the problem, the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine is endeavouring to address the short-term issue of supply, the medium term one of future access to peat and also the longer-term issue of replacement with alternatives.

As one of the key short-term actions in that working paper, my Department has recruited an independent expert to work with growers, and suppliers, including Bord na Móna, to ascertain the level of horticultural peat stocks available to growers.

This expert will also work with Bord na Móna, other suppliers and growers to ascertain whether or not any hobby or other peat on their estate would be of interest or value to growers. Such peat might be suitable for mixing by current suppliers to produce a growing medium of value to growers. This work is currently under way.

I also announced the commissioning of experts to provide focussed regulatory guidance on planning to assist those wishing to extract peat in the medium term for horticulture growers, contracts have been agreed with experts for the preparation of this guidance and this work will start immediately.

This expert guidance document when published will provide a valuable resource to those seeking legal compliance for the abstraction of horticultural peat on sub-30 hectare bogs for supply to the domestic horticulture industry.

My Department in also looking towards the future will continue to support and facilitate research in the development of alternatives to peat for horticulture through my Department's Research Calls and through the EU Producer Organisation Scheme for Fruit and Vegetables.


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