Farm Ireland
Independent.ie

Saturday 25 March 2017

Another mushroom plant closes amid Brexit 'turmoil'

Claire McCormack

Golden Vale Mushrooms has closed.
Golden Vale Mushrooms has closed.

BREXIT has forced a third mushroom grower to close its doors as industry leaders call on the Government to provide emergency protection to the sector.

Golden Vale Mushrooms, located in Clonmore, South Cahir, Co Tipperary ceased trading early last week.

The family-owned business, headed by James Quinn, employed up to 25 staff and was totally dependent on export to the UK market.

At least 100 other jobs have been lost in the vulnerable mushroom sector since the UK's controversial vote to leave the EU just three months ago.

An estimated 90pc of mushrooms (70,000t), worth €120m, produced in Ireland are exported to the UK - accounting for 52pc of the UK mushroom market. There are currently just below 60 mushroom producers in Ireland, with a total workforce of 3,500, mostly located in rural areas,

Last week, members of the Commercial Mushroom Producers Co-operative Society (CMP) and the IFA Horticulture Committee warned the Government that immediate action must be taken against the dramatic weakening of the sterling.

Decline

Gerry Reilly, chairman of the IFA Horticulture Committee, said a total of €7m in exports has already been lost by the closure of three producers - two in Tipperary and one near Portarlington.


"The industry has been thrown into turmoil. The serious downward price pressure is compounded by serious decline. Contracts were agreed in sterling, when sterling was at a much stronger position against the euro," he said.

"We need a lifeline, we need oxygen and we desperately need short-term action to be taken at national and EU level or else there will be further haemorrhaging," he said.

Speaking at a special Agriculture Committee meeting in Leinster House, Mr Reilly called for the temporary reduction of the lower rate of employer PRSI from 8.5pc to 4.25pc. He also called on the Government not to increase the minimum wage in the upcoming budget as he believes it will exacerbate the mushroom crisis.

Rowena Dwyer, chief IFA economist, said: " Any increase in wages is an increase in production costs and could jeopardise employment numbers," she said.

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