By using this website, you consent to our use of cookies. For more information on cookies see our privacy policy page.

Text Size: a a
Home A-Z Index Subscribe/RSS Contact Us Twitter logo small white bird

Minister Smith expresses vote of confidence in €120m Mushroom Industry

Following a visit to Monaghan today to mushroom growers and to open a new mushroom marketing facility, Mr Brendan Smith TD, Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture and Food with responsibility for Food and Horticulture, said that he was confident that the Irish mushroom industry was now set on a much more sustainable course with the capacity to compete successfully on the international market. "The fact that the industry has been built here from practically zero 25 years ago to a stage where it supplies over half the UK fresh mushroom market is a great success story and surely up there amongst the best in Irish agriculture," said Minister Smith.

Minister Smith visited the farms of Mr Peadar McGee, Cornacreeve, Emyvale, Co Monaghan and Mr Kieran Walsh, Tiernaneill Mushrooms, Tiernaneill, Co Monaghan, and opened the new pack-house and offices of Commercial Mushroom Producers Co-operative Society Ltd.

Minister Smith said that the industry had come through a very difficult period brought about by downward prices on the UK market. "These difficulties were anticipated when we set up the Mushroom Task Force following on which I am glad that I was able to prioritise the sector for NDP funding. Over €18m in capital investments for the modernisation of mushroom production facilities were approved for grant aid by my Department in the past three years in addition to the substantial funding provided for mushroom marketing facilities," said Minister Smith.

Minister Smith said that the industry had undergone a profound change with less than 100 producers now growing the same quantity of mushrooms, around 60,000 tonnes, compared to 500 producers in 2000. There was now a very high dependency on migrant labour and this brought into focus issues surrounding the rights of workers.

"Over recent times there has been much media attention drawn to the alleged mistreatment of workers in the sector. Any such treatment which may have happened only serves to tarnish an industry which has been built on a high standard of excellence and sheer hard work. Worker abuse can never be condoned in any civilised society and it certainly will not be condoned by the Government," said Minister Smith.

During a visit to CMP (Commercial Mushroom Producers Co-operative Society), Minister Smith said that the EU Producer Organisation Scheme had made a tremendous contribution to the development of the mushroom industry here with aid of some €21.75m provided since 2000 of which CMP has benefited significantly. The Minister said that the key aim of the PO Scheme is to improve product quality and promote the concentration of supply which in turn helps to reduce production costs and stabilise producer prices "This new pack-house, marketing facility and offices, which have been developed by CMP, should serve to progress these aims. I am delighted that my Department was in a position to approve grant aid of €474,000 under the marketing and processing scheme towards the construction costs of the pack-house and the purchase of the most up-to-date handling and packing equipment," concluded Minister Smith

27 November 2006

Date Released: 27 November 2006