IFA President Tim Cullinan said some of the commentary in the media over the last few days regarding food costs and food inflation is misinformed.
“Farmers are financially worse off today than they were 18 months ago, and this is borne out in the CSO data,” he said.
“The CSO data shows that in 2022 Agricultural Output prices rose by 26.4%, but this was eclipsed by farm input prices rising by 34.7%. Despite higher prices for farmers, our margins were eroded with our Terms of Trade reducing by 6.2%. Even more worrying, the latest CSO data shows that input prices on farms have fallen by 0.9% in February 2023, but farm output prices fell by more at 3.9%. This level of squeeze on farmers cannot continue,” he said.
IFA has sought an urgent meeting with Minister Neale Richmond to discuss the food chain.
“Pigs, poultry, liquid milk producers and vegetable growers were left carrying the can in 2022 and had to fight tooth and nail to get the retailers to pass back completely justified wholesale price increases. It came too late for many,” he said.
Pig numbers are down 10%; eggs are in very short supply; liquid milk farmers are switching to seasonal production; and we have lost field vegetable growers.
“Fewer than 100 commercial field vegetable growers are left. More will leave unless the Government regulates our food chain and retailers. There was never a more urgent need for the Food Regulator to be in place to ensure fairness and transparency,” Tim Cullinan said.
“This has been promised in the Programme for Government and must now be delivered by the Minister for Agriculture. The primary function of this legislation is to protect the most vulnerable in the food production chain,” he said.