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Farmers Patience with Retailers Runs Out

10 September 2012, at 7:49am

IRELAND - Irish Farmers Association (IFA) President John Bryan has said that retailers who fail to address escalating production costs by not returning higher prices to producers, are playing Russian roulette with farm viability in the interests of preserving their own fat margins. This cannot continue, he said.

“Retailers, as key stakeholders in the food supply chain, have a responsibility to producers and to the future of the agriculture and food industry in this country and must recognise the difficulties that farmers are currently faced with, by ensuring they receive a fair price for produce which covers their costs of production plus a margin.”

“Preliminary estimates indicate that farm incomes could be down by as much as 30 per cent for some sectors this year. The key input costs of feed, fertiliser and fuel have risen dramatically. Feed costs are currently up €60/t on last year and rising, fertiliser costs are up 25 per cent and fuel costs are up 30 per cent on 2010 levels.

Mr Bryan said production across all sectors has been severely affected by the bad weather, with milk yields down, thrive and weight gain well back in both the beef and sheep meat sectors and a significant yield reduction across the arable and horticultural crops. “There is an income crisis in the pig and poultry sectors as a result of increased feed and input costs which has not been fully reflected or reflected at all by retailers and processors.”

As a result of poor grass growth and utilisation, up to 40 per cent of farmers have had to re-house livestock during the summer months incurring major additional feed costs. In extreme cases, little or no winter fodder has been saved and reserves have been depleted.

The combination of bad weather, increased costs, production and yield losses have left farmers in a very difficult income situation with severe and mounting cash flow problem on many affected farms.