16 November 2016

“While the setting up of this scheme is welcomed, it is just a patchwork solution, with more concrete measures needed,” according to Willie Penrose, Labour spokesperson on Agriculture, Food and the Marine.

“It is not clear for example, how these measures will support the current crisis in the struggling mushroom industry.

“As I said during the recent debate on the Social Welfare Bill, there were, at one time, around 600 growers in the mushroom industry, but that number has now dropped to approximately 60. The industry employs many people in rural areas where job opportunities are limited. There are a number in my own county of Westmeath, but they are being wiped out.

“One of the first casualties of the UK’s decision in June on Brexit and the consequential fluctuations in sterling was the mushroom industry. Four significant farms have gone and more will follow. More than 90% of farms’ mushrooms are exported to Britain.

“It is important that temporary assistance be rendered to this exposed industry to help it get to over this problem and secure its future. If it gets over it, it will undoubtedly survive. For example, there could be a temporary reduction in employer’s PRSI from 8.5% to 4.2%. This measure was implemented successfully in 2012 and 2013 for other industries.”

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