Concern for future of Tipperary nursery’s and mushroom farms

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A Tipperary TD fears the ban on harvesting horticultural peat could result in Ireland importing mushrooms rather than growing them here.

Sinn Féin TD Martin Browne says the move has led to a considerable increase in costs for the likes of mushroom farms and nursery’s in his area.

The sector employs around 3,000 people in Ireland.

Deputy Browne told the Dáil that mushroom growers here may decide to move their business abroad.

“One nursery in my own constituency – in Dundrum – told me he’s glad he has only ten more years in the business when the people who should be looking after us have no interest in us.”

“He’s had to source horticultural peat from Scotland and Estonia and costs have risen from €24 per cubic metre to €37.”

“Minister this is how the future looks for the mushroom sector who if the current policy persists may move to the continent altogether.”

Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture and Food Pippa Hackett said there were alternatives to peat but accepted that the issue needs to be addressed.

“It’s untrue in a sense to say there are no alternatives – there are alternatives but they’re not available at scale for the commercial horticulture sector.”

“There are some commercial organic growers for example who are peat free. So there is scope, there is work being done on this, there is research being done in this but again it is about implementing measures over the next number of years to help our sector transition out of peat.”

“Peat extraction must stop but horticulture must continue and that’s what I’ll endeavour to support.”