The Irish Farmers’ Association has called the exclusion of soft fruit growers from the Horticulture Exceptional Aid Scheme “inexplicable” and “unacceptable”. The organization welcomed the €2.8 million scheme, which was announced by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) on Monday. However, it added that the details of it must be revisited, as it is not supportive of all in the industry.
IFA soft fruit chairman Jimmy Kearns said that soft fruit growers are facing the same input cost increases as others in the industry, yet they have been excluded from the scheme. Outlining the cost pressures facing growers, Kearns: “there has been a sharp increase in the cost of labor, packaging materials, fertilizer, energy, peat based growing media and other inputs that are essential elements of production”. He added that the situation is even more distressing for growers that use heated glass, given the rise in energy costs.
“Producers are facing hugely significant decreases in margins which cannot be recouped by price increases alone. Growers have already cut back on production for 2022 to manage cashflow,” Kearns added.