New supports needed to protect mushroom industry – Smith

– Impact of Brexit is being felt across the sector –

Fianna Fáil TD for Cavan-Monaghan Brendan Smith has called on the Government to get serious about the fallout from Brexit, and particularly the impact that it’s having on the mushroom industry.  The sector employs hundreds of people in Monaghan and Cavan and is a major economic driver in the region.
Deputy Brendan Smith commented, “The mushroom industry has been badly hit following Britain’s decision to leave the EU and the subsequent currency volatility.  We’ve already seen the loss of 70 jobs in Tipperary as a result of the closure of Schiel and McDonald which cited the Brexit result as a direct factor in its decision to close.  We cannot afford to see this replicated in Monaghan or Cavan.
“90% of all mushrooms grown in Ireland are exported to the UK. The entire industry is hanging on by the skin of its teeth.  Unfortunately the Government has failed to act decisively in the aftermath of the Brexit vote.  Its three months since the referendum result and we are no further down the road.
“I have consistently flagged concerns about the impact of Brexit on this sector through Parliamentary Questions and in other Dáil debates with the Taoiseach, the Finance Minister, the Jobs Minister and the Finance Minister; especially the need to put proper support measures in place for the mushroom sector.  Unfortunately nothing has been done to assist this industry, which has grown considerably over the years.
“Mushroom producers are now extremely vulnerable – they’ve had their margins slashed and the weakness of Sterling against the Euro is making them even less competitive.  The Government cannot continue to take a back seat while the industry fights for survival.
“Fianna Fáil has proposed the use of CAP market support measures to alleviate the pressure on mushroom producers. EU funds have been provided previously for exceptional measures in the dairy and pig meat sectors, and I can see no reason why the mushroom industry cannot be included in these measures.
“Hundreds of jobs are at stake unless tangible action on this issue is taken.  Any hit would have a detrimental impact on the local and wider economy and it is imperative that Minister Creed and his Government counterparts act without delay”.