Fine Gael Senator Regina Doherty has said that strong political will is needed to allow the harvesting of Irish peat to resume immediately.
The senator for north Dublin said that the issue of peat is a matter of urgency for growers in her constituency.
“Our horticulturalists and nurseries have started to import peat 3,000km away because we refuse to allow people to harvest peat from Irish bogs purely to produce Irish food and plants.
“I understand that if there is a replacement or stockpile, we should use that as an alternative to peat, but the stockpile has run out and the replacements for peat are not ready,” she said.
“The peat we used to harvest in our bogs, purely for fruit and veg growers and for nurseries, accounted for 0.6% of the overall carbon footprint of the country.
“If we continue to import from Latvia, Poland and Sri Lanka, it will account for 2.6%. So, our strategy to reduce our carbon footprint is actually going to have nearly five times more of a negative effect to the environment,” insisted Doherty.
“There are 17,000 jobs at risk as well if we continue down this path and there is also the risk of increased pressure on our food security,” she added.
“The industry can only deliver on environmental sustainability if they have the financial sustainability and security, if the most basic raw material is there to be purchased to grow the lettuces, the mushrooms, or the flowers and shrubs,” she said.
The senator held a meeting with the IFA mushroom, fruit and vegetable farmers and nursery owners last Thursday.
Senator Doherty said that farmers are totally frustrated, and that their livelihoods and the environment is at stake due to a Government strategy that wasn’t thought out properly.
“We can and must execute policies and climate action in a way that doesn’t wipe out industries and livelihoods.
“The fact we are having a greater impact on the environment is just madness," concluded Doherty.
The comments come following a shipment last week of 3,600t of horticultural peat that arrived in Drogheda, Co Louth, from Latvia.