A new Bill will end Irish horticultural growers’ reliance on expensive imported peat as a growing medium for their produce by allowing them to extract Irish peat as part of a Just Transition.
The Horticultural Peat (Temporary Measures) Bill 2021, due to be introduced before the Seanad on Tuesday, makes exceptional provisions for peat extraction for the purpose of horticulture for a temporary period in the public interest in order to mitigate the adverse consequences resulting from an interruption to supply.
Senator Regina Doherty said, “Irish growers produce some of the highest quality food and plants in the world, but as a result of one foolish legal action to ban growers extracting Irish peat., they’re now in the midst of an industry crisis. This has to change.
“Because of this ban, producers have no option but to import peat from places such as Latvia. We have acres of peatland right here, with only 0.12% of total Irish peatland required for the purposes of horticulture.
“As it stands, there are no alternatives to peat as a growing media that are available, affordable and sustainable.
“Importing peat has extremely high monetary and environmental costs. The price paid by growers for foreign peat is much more expensive than what they would pay for Irish peat, while importing peat has five times the environmental impact of extracting it ourselves.
“Time is of the essence here; every fortnight that we don’t have a solution to this issue another 3,600 tonnes of imported peat arrives onto our shores.
“We speak about ensuring a ‘Just Transition’ for all those in our agricultural sectors. This is a prime example of where we need to step up and find common sense and reasonable solutions for workers in this area.
“I have worked with my Seanad colleagues, in particular Senator Robbie Gallagher, on a cross-party Bill that does just that; it allows for peat extraction for the horticultural industry on a temporary basis until we secure a viable alternative to peat.
“I’ve also worked closely with Growing Media Ireland (GMI) and the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) on this piece of legislation and I am delighted to have their support for the Bill.
“I hope that this Bill will provide our growers with the clarity and comfort that they need to continue producing our fine fresh Irish food,” Senator Doherty concluded.