Senator Regina Doherty introduced the Horticultural Peat (Temporary Measures) Bill 2021 before the Seanad on Tuesday 23 November, which could see the extraction of Irish peat return for horticultural use.

The new bill is a part of the just transition to reduce Irish horticultural growers’ reliance on expensive imported peat as a growing medium for their produce.

“I don’t say this lightly, but we won’t have an Irish strawberry, an Irish Brussels sprout, an Irish lettuce – our producers will literally come to a halt, because financially, they won’t be able to import long-term,” Senator Doherty said.

IFA hardy nursery chair Val Farrell has said that the bill will save jobs in the sector and put an end to the importation of peat. He urged the Government to support the bill and “ensure it is enacted without delay.”

Gerard O’Reilly, chair of the IFA mushroom producers committee, said he would welcome the bill, as there is no alternative to peat.

O’Reilly estimated that Latvian peat will add an extra 20% to their cost of production.

“This peat in Latvia isn’t half as good as the peat we can grow here in Ireland. The texture and quality of it isn’t the same. There is no common sense here at all.”

A spokesperson for the Department of Housing told the Irish Farmers Journal that the report of the working group on horticultural peat was submitted to Minister of State Malcolm Noonan on 20 October.

“The Minister is considering the report carefully, with a view to publishing in due course,” the spokesperson said.

He added that the chair of the working group, Dr Munoo Prasad, said that the export of peat did not fall within the group’s remit.