Laois Sinn Féin TD Brian Stanley is backing attempts to restart the Irish sugar beet industry,hoping that a €400 million processing plant can be built in his election area.
Carlow beet factory closed in 2007 after 80 years, with the lost of 190 full time jobs, following EU cuts to sugar subsidies and quotas. It was followed by the last plant closing in Cork in 2010.
With the abolition of those quotas in 2017, hopes are growing of a new national sugar beet factory, that would also produce bio ethanol.
The plan is being pushed by Beet Ireland, a group of farmers and food producers.
“The location is to be determined, but it would be in a beet growing region, and I want it in Laois. This is a very serious attempt by Beet Ireland to try and regenerate the industry. There would be great benefits for farmers. €400 million worth of sugar products are imported to Ireland every year,” Dep Stanley said.
He is to make approaches to Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney, with SF Agri spokesperson Martin Ferris.
“This is very realistic. There are sugar beet factories in England and France, but we have a better climate for beet. Regarding Harvest 2020, we have to up our food production, but there is a collision between beef and dairy and climate change, while grain is high risk with poor summers. Beet gives balance and stability. It was a very good cash crop and is an excellent ‘break crop’ for general crop rotation and for barley in particular,” he said, adding that jobs would also be created for contractors, hauliers and factory workers.