Speaking following Tuesday’s meeting of the Joint Committee on Agriculture, Tipperary Sinn Féin TD Martin Browne expressed his concern at the lack of ambition shown by Department officials to address the impending crisis in the horticulture sector.
Teachta Browne said:
“Officials from three Government Departments appeared before the committee, and the seeming lack of ambition to resolve the emerging peat shortage crisis encapsulated how the horticultural sector is losing out from the collective Departments’ failure to come together for the benefit of the industry and the environment.
“The Departments have been speaking of ‘buying time to develop alternatives’. What the Departments seem to forget is that it is the sector that needs the time to make this transition in a way that is viable for their industry.
“What the Departments need to is to become realistic to the fact that there is a lack of alternatives to make the transition immediately, that they mushroom and nursery industries are professionals who know their trade and what it takes to ensure they can remain sustainable.
“Instead of a commitment to a realistic transitional plan, we were given vague suggestions of ‘supplemental measures’ which indicate short term and inadequate gestures.
“No indication was given to Committee members that the options submitted by sector organisations were being taken seriously.
“Our mushroom sector, upon which so many jobs and communities depend, should not have to rely on this kind of uncertainty and indifference; neither should our nurseries and associated businesses.
“As the officials are reluctant to initiate the changes needed, the Ministers themselves must now answer to the 17,000 workers in the horticultural industry and tell them if their jobs matter or not.”