The Irish Farmers' Association (IFA) has called on all political parties to support the bill which Senator Regina Doherty introduced to the Seanad on Tuesday to recommence the harvesting of horticultural peat in Ireland.

The bill will save jobs in the sector and put an end to the importation of peat, IFA hardy nursery chair Val Farrell has said.

He urged the Government to support the bill and "ensure it is enacted without delay".

The bill seeks to introduce a single-step system for the licensing of horticultural peat harvesting. It will be instrumental in helping ease the pressure on the horticulture industry.

Future in jeopardy

Farrell said: "The future of the horticulture sector is in jeopardy, as the industry is left with no alternative but to import peat from the Baltic regions for the domestic market.

“Importing peat will have lasting consequences for the sector. Already, it has resulted in hugely increased costs.

"This in turn will have a real impact on the competitiveness of Ireland’s sustainable horticulture sector."

Along with the carbon footprint associated with transport, this Baltic peat can shrink at twice the rate of Irish peat, thus emitting more carbon.

Final report

The final report from the peat consultation group is still outstanding. It was received by Minister Noonan over a month ago, the IFA has reported.

“The Government must now work together to put an end to this travesty. This bill, once enacted, will have a positive impact on the sector, help protect jobs and put an end to the importation of peat,” Farrell said.