Matt Carthy, Sinn Féin MEP for the Midlands North West, has raised directly with the European Commission the urgent situation, particularly the impact of the Brexit referendum result, on mushroom farmers operating in Ireland.
Speaking at a hearing with Commissioner Hogan in the European Parliament’s Agriculture and Rural Development Committee Mr Carthy said: “The mushroom industry in Ireland is in disarray at the moment, with fluctuations of the sterling leading to massive losses. The fact that the contracts have been negotiated in sterling, means that Irish producers are being forced to accept prices way below any sustainable level.
“I was pleased to have an opportunity to raise this issue directly with the Commissioner. I have asked him to clarify what studies the Commission has carried out, or plans on carrying out on the impact the Brexit result is having on producers.
“In particular I informed Commissioner Hogan that measures must be taken to support mushroom growers in Ireland until they are in a position to renegotiate prices in the new year.”
He continued: “The commissioner provided important clarification that the Irish government can provide ad hoc measures to help these mushroom growers. Our government must waste no time in putting these measures in place.
“Mushroom producers in Ireland, especially in counties like my own home of Monaghan, are important employers and the issue must be tackled immediately.
“I hope that the Commissioner listened to what I had to say today and will start to consider real action. Minister Michael Creed must insist also that protections are agreed without delay.”
Mr Carthy concluded: “I am disappointed that the Commissioner seems of the opinion that discussions to tackle the adverse effects of Brexit will only begin in March.
“The problems are happening now. In fact, they started last June, when the vote in England caused the sterling to drop to one of its lowest levels in recent years.
“There is no sign of a rebound and there is a fear that thousands of Irish jobs in vulnerable sectors like the mushroom industry will be lost if action isn’t taken quickly.”