Sinn Féin TD for Cavan Monaghan, Matt Carthy, has said that it is scandalous that the government is inactive in setting out a resolution to the peat crisis affecting the horticulture sector, while the Mushroom sector itself is being innovative in seeking to identify viable alternatives to peat.
At present peat is being imported into the state, due to a planning debacle, because it is required by many horticulture sectors, particularly the mushroom sector.
On Monday, Deputy Carthy joined the Oireachtas Agriculture Committee on visits to Cornacrieve Farm and Commercial Mushroom Producers (CMP) in County Monaghan to learn of the Mushroom sector’s efforts to source alternatives to peat in their productions.
Speaking after the engagements, Teachta Carthy said:
“I was very pleased to welcome members of the Oireachtas Agriculture Committee to County Monaghan and particularly for the committee to see a vital economic sector in this region, the Mushroom sector.
“For a number of years, I have been highlighting the existential threat that is faced by this sector due to the inability to harvest peat in this state. We accept that the use of peat must be phased-out but we also know from several government-commissioned reports that this will take time.
“At present peat is being imported into this state. It is a nonsensical situation that brings zero environmental benefit and places the mushroom sector at risk. Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and Green Party Ministers have shown no willingness to resolve this anomaly.
“In contrast, the sector itself is going to great efforts to identify long-term viable and sustainable alternatives to peat.
“At Cornacrieve Farm we received updates and viewed peat casing reduction trials which are producing very positive results. At Commercial Mushroom Producers we saw that the re-use of compost bedding can be recycled as mushroom casing. It is clear that the sector are intent on being innovative and imaginative in addressing the horticulture peat crisis.
“That innovation and imagination must be matched by government. There will be a need for horticulture peat for some time to come, albeit hopefully in ever reducing amounts. We cannot tolerate a situation whereby that peat is being imported and therefore not subject to Irish environmental oversight.
“Government must find a solution to the planning deadlock and work with industry to ensure that the time it is required is shortened due to the efforts in research and development of alternatives.
“The Minister for Agriculture in particular must set out a roadmap to the Dáil as to exactly how he intends to support the sector and resolve this crisis.”