Bord na Móna has exited the peat bedding market after just two years despite having had big plans to capitalise on the growing market for the product.
The company entered the market in 2017, having reportedly appointed a team to manage sales and grow the market in the wake of reduced use of peat for power generation.
However, the company confirmed to the Farming Independent that, in line with its Brown to Green strategy adopted in 2018, it made decisions in 2019 not to harvest peat for animal bedding, not to pursue that market and to sell off any existing stocks.
It said the new strategy involved the transition away from peat into renewable energy, recycling and other areas that will help Ireland become carbon neutral by 2050.
The move came after sustained criticism from environmental groups over the use of peat for livestock bedding, with the practice increasing in popularity due to a decline in the availability of straw.
Friends of the Irish Environment (FIE) lodged complaints against Teagasc and Bord na Móna over promoting the use of the product.
In a letter, the group asked former Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed “to ensure that further damage to the environment and increased emissions of GHGs are not caused by this initiative”.
In a letter directly to Teagasc director Gerry Boyle, FIE said: “The extraction and use of peat is not as you state a ‘viable alternative’ to straw bedding”. It is not 'viable' for any purpose and entirely unsustainable.”
The group also wrote to Bord na Móna chairman Geoff Meagher, asking him to examine the company's plans for the peat bedding market.
Despite Bord na Móna's exit from the market, a myriad of options for farmers to secure the product remain available.
Classified ads for the product claim “massive savings” possible for farmers, with peat said to have been "proved to work better than straw or wood shavings at a quarter and a fifth of the price”.
One ad is currently offering peat for bedding in the Midlands area from €330 for the 16ft trailer “depending on the distance”.