Fruit and Vegetables
Scheme of Investment Aid for the Development of the Commercial Horticulture Sector
Grant aid is available under the Scheme of Investment Aid for the Development of the Commercial Horticulture Sector. The Scheme aims to assist development of the horticulture sector, including beekeeping, by providing grant aid for capital investments in specialised plant and equipment as well as emerging technologies speciﬁc to commercial horticulture production. The scheme’s objectives are to facilitate environmentally friendly practices; promote the diversiﬁcation of on-farm activities; improve the quality of products and improve working conditions. The scheme is primarily aimed at those engaging in commercial horticulture production and/or beekeeping.
Scheme of EU Aid for Producer Organisations (POs) in the Fruit and Vegetable Sector
A Producer Organisation is a legal entity, which is formed on the initiative of growers of fruit and vegetables, who undertake to market their production through the Producer Organisation structure.
To obtain recognition from this Department, a Producer Organisation must have a minimum of 5 active producer members with a combined annual value of marketed production (VMP) of at least €2,500,000.
A Producer Organisation must implement a 3, 4 or 5-year operational programme (business plan) which must also receive prior approval from the Department and must be submitted by 15 September of the year prior to commencement. However, legal entities wishing to obtain recognition as a Producer Organisation are advised to contact the Department well in advance of that date as the recognition process involves a series of pre-recognition checks which must be complied with before recognition is possible.
EU ﬁnancial assistance is available to recognised Producer Organisations towards the eligible costs of implementing their approved operational programmes.
Production and Marketing of Fresh Fruit and Vegetables
Commercial producers of fresh fruit and vegetables (including potatoes and edible fungi) are required to register as food producers with the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine. The Department carries out inspections to ensure compliance with food safety regulations. There are penalties for infringements of the legislation. In addition to registration, commercial producers of sprouted seed also require approval by the Department.
European Union Marketing Standards exist for a wide range of fresh fruit and vegetables. The function of the standards is to ensure that regulated produce oﬀered for sale is of acceptable quality and appropriately labelled. The standards concern quality, sizing, presentation and labelling. These standards apply to home-grown and imported products oﬀered for sale at wholesale and retail levels throughout the country and to products being imported/exported. Responsibility for ensuring that produce which is sold or oﬀered for sale complies with the marketing standards lies with the trader. Department oﬃcials inspect produce to ensure that the standards are being observed. There are penalties for infringements of the marketing standards.
The beekeeping sector is regulated by EU and National Legislation. Under this legislation, bees are subject to veterinary inspection for certain notiﬁable diseases. Currently these diseases are Foul Brood Disease (American and European), Small Hive Beetle and the Tropilaelaps mite. Beekeepers must notify this Department of all suspected outbreaks of any of these diseases in their bee-hives or colonies. Imports and exports of bees are subject to health certiﬁcation at their place of origin in the exporting country and to checks at their place of destination in the importing country.
Grant aid towards specialist beekeeping facilities and equipment is available under the Scheme of Investment Aid for the Development of the Commercial Horticulture Sector.
Beekeepers are encouraged to register as food producers with the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.
Honey oﬀered for sale must comply with the European Communities (Marketing of Honey) Regulations 2003 (S. I. No. 367 of 2003 as amended). These regulations aim to ensure traded honey is of acceptable quality and accurately labelled, especially in terms of origin. In addition honey oﬀered for sale to the consumer must also comply with the European Union (Provision of Food Information to Consumers) Regulations 2014 (S. I. No. 556 of 2014). The Department carries out inspections to ensure compliance with these regulations. There are penalties for infringements of the legislation. In addition to ensuring appropriate labelling of honey, the Department also conducts controls to ensure honey meets food safety requirements.
Plant Health and Trade
Ireland is free of many of the serious diseases and pests, which aﬀect plants and crops and consequently has a high standard of plant health. The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine operates controls under both National and EU legislation to maintain this high health status. Any unusual occurrence of disease or pest should be notiﬁed immediately to the Department’s Horticulture & Plant Health Division.
A common system of plant health controls operates within the EU. A feature of this system is that material (certain plants, plant products and other objects), which are subject to these controls, must be inspected at production level to check compliance with the requirements that are laid down in respect of movement within the EU. Some of this
material must be accompanied by a label, known as a Plant Passport, when being moved.
This denotes eligibility for movement within the EU and speciﬁcally for movement into and
within designated protected zones. Persons involved in the production and movement of relevant material must be registered with this Department and be authorised to issue Plant Passports, where appropriate.
Material that is of non-EU origin and is subject to plant health controls may only be imported by registered importers and is subject to mandatory phytosanitary inspection upon entry into the EU.
Registration of Potato Growers and Potato Packers Act
Under the Registration of Potato Growers and Potato Packers Acts, 1984 and 2004, every person who is a grower of potatoes for sale or a packer of potatoes for sale must register with the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine. A once-oﬀ registration fee of €19 is payable.
Potatoes may not be sold unless they have been grown by a registered grower and packed by a registered packer. A person may not sell potatoes in a package unless the package bears the registration number of both the registered grower and the registered packer.
Regulations made under the Act require both growers and packers to maintain detailed records of quantities sold/purchased. These records ensure that potatoes oﬀered for sale at retail level can be traced back to individual growers or importers.
Standards for Sale of Potatoes
Potatoes sold or oﬀered for sale must comply with the requirements of the Food Standards (Potatoes) Regulations. They must be of good quality, sold separately by variety and sold in the prescribed size ranges. Packages must be marked with the potato variety and the size range. Packaging must be able to absorb moisture and admit air. The Regulations do not apply to potatoes for processing or for export.