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€4.4m to assist horticulture producers after 'exceptionally wet weather'

Bad weather in 2012 affected most sectors within Ireland’s horticultural industry – and the damage was further compounded for many growers by the cold late spring this year, the Minister for Agriculture said.

Image: zirconicusso via Shutterstock

A GRANT AID package of €4.4 million has been announced to assist commercial horticultural producers by the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney TD.

Grants will be provided to 175 commercial horticultural producers to assist in funding capital investments in specialist new equipment and facilities – covering all areas of the horticultural industry: field vegetables, mushrooms, protected crops, nursery crops, soft fruit/apples, cut foliage, Christmas trees, bulbs and bee-keeping. The package will assist in funding investments by growers costing approximately €11 million between now and the end of the year, Coveney said in a statement.

Last year’s “exceptionally wet weather” meant it was a very difficult year for most sectors within Ireland’s horticultural industry – a factor which has been further compounded for many growers by the cold late spring this year, Coveney said. However, despite recent weather difficulties, the minister said he was “heartened to witness the level of interest and the number of high quality proposals submitted under the current round of this competitive grant aid scheme.”

The horticultural sector employs an estimated 5,000 people nationally both directly and indirectly and, excluding the value of potatoes, Ireland’s horticultural industry contributed €297m to the value of agricultural output in 2012. “It’s vital for Ireland’s economic recovery that the Government supports this sector as it invests in building its long term production capacity,” Coveney said.

The main challenges facing Irish horticulture producers are competitive pressures – particularly high input costs and energy costs – along with competitively priced imports, lack of scale and the dominance of the supermarket trade, he said. As such, the horticultural industry must continually adapt its production methods to minimise environmental effects and maximise the benefit from adopting new technologies – and the available funding has been targeted at those growers with the best potential for growth and competitiveness in accordance with Food Harvest 2020 recommendations.

The package is part of the 2013 Scheme of Investment Aid for the Development of the Commercial Horticulture Sector funded under the National Development Plan (2007-2013).

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