Written answers

Thursday, 31 March 2022

Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine

Farm Costs

Photo of Jennifer Carroll MacNeillJennifer Carroll MacNeill (Dún Laoghaire, Fine Gael)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

163. To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the details of the support for horticultural and other agrifood producers impacted by the rise in energy costs and raw materials such as gas and carbon dioxide; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16786/22]

Photo of Charlie McConalogueCharlie McConalogue (Donegal, Fianna Fail)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

The people of Ireland have shown great support for Ukraine and the Ukrainian people. The Government also remains resolute in its solidarity & support and will continue to co-ordinate a humanitarian, economic and diplomatic response to the crisis.

Significant implications are being seen across all sectors, including the agri-food sector. As well as the immediate humanitarian crisis, which must take priority, we need to take the necessary steps to ensure that food security is maintained, for EU citizens, for the Ukrainian people and in the wider global context.

At farm level, the crisis is already impacting very significantly on the price of animal feed, fertiliser and fuel. Within my Department, I have established a Rapid Response Team, chaired by the Secretary General, to actively monitor the impacts on agri-food supply chains and to contribute to the whole of Government response to this crisis.

I have tasked a National Fodder and Food Security Committee headed by Teagasc to prepare an industry response to the emerging crisis in feed, fodder, fertiliser and other inputs, and to develop contingency plans and advice to assist farmers in managing their farm enterprises.

On 22nd March, the Government approved my proposal for a targeted intervention package for the tillage sector and a multi-species sward initiative, worth over €12 million to support Irish farmers. This package is aimed at producing more native crops and reducing dependency on imports, and on producing crops with a low demand for chemical fertiliser.

An emergency aid scheme for pig farmers of €7 million opened for applications on 7 March. This will provide commercial pig farmers a payment of up to €20,000 each. The first payments to pig farmers under this scheme began to issue last week.

I am also aware of the particular issues in horticulture and have engaged with the sector. Energy is a significant input for many horticulture enterprises as crops, such as tomatoes, cucumbers and mushrooms, are grown indoors in glasshouses and in protected greenhouse structures. Energy price inflation is obviously an issue across the whole economy and the Government has already taken action and will continue to consider additional measures in this regard.

As part of my Backing Rural Ireland tour, I met with members of the horticulture sector in north Co Dublin. I was impressed by their skill, determination and braveness. We need to ensure that we have a vibrant domestic horticulture sector. This is something that both I and the Government want to protect.

At EU level I have met with EU Agriculture Ministers and on 23rd March the European Commission announced a package of measures to assist the sector including a €500 million package to support farmers most affected. This includes an allocation of €15.8 million for Ireland, which can be topped up by national funding. I will be examining ways to best mobilise this support as soon as possible, taking account of the detailed requirements and conditionality attached to this exceptional aid provision.

The EU package also includes plans to deploy market safety net measures to support specific markets including private storage aid for pigmeat.

I will continue to engage with all our stakeholders and will continue to work across Government, and with our European partners, to respond to this crisis using all of the tools at our disposal.


No comments

Log in or join to post a public comment.